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Harnessing genetic diversity in quinoa for modern breeding by a phenotypic and genetic characterization of growth and seed compositions

Archis Pandya

One of the biggest challenges of today is the provision of nutritious food in sufficient amounts and sustainably produced in face of climate change. Harnessing diversity of crop species that have only marginal use world-wide today has been identified as a goal for sustainability (Sustainable Agriculture for Biodiversity, FAO). Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) can be an alternative crop for other cereals in many countries of the world as it is tolerant of many adverse environmental conditions, including salinity, frost, heat, and drought. Moreover, quinoa seeds are very nutritious with high levels of proteins and an excellent balance between essential amino acids, vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals. The overall aim of this project is to identify genomic markers through sequencing and phenotypic of a unique collection of genotypes originating in Chile. Understanding the physiological and genetic basis of important agronomic plant traits such as the time of flowering and plant maturity, plant height, and grain yield are crucial for the development of modern quinoa breeding. This project aims to establish and adapt large-scale phenotyping methodologies for shoot and root related traits, and genotyping of quinoa germplasm, both in the field and in a controlled environment. In a preliminary experiment, a selection of quinoa genotypes were grown under controlled environmental conditions and phenotyped for key phenological stages. Based on statistical analysis, a significant difference in flowering time as well as in maturity were observed for all genotypes. Besides highly nutritional properties, quinoa seed consists of a mixture of saponins and other compounds. These compounds confer undesirable properties to quinoa seeds and need to be removed before products can be used for human consumption. This study also maps the content of Saponins from several quinoa varieties. Saponins were extracted by using a novel extraction protocol and quantified as oleanolic acid (OA) by GC-MS. Saponins were found in concentrations ranging from 144.6 µg/g to 616.4 µg/g of the total seed mass.

F1Figure 1. Plant Morphology and Phenological Stage: a) Each genotype grown in greenhouse under long day conditions b) germination and leaf development stage c) development of inflorescence d) Floral transition e) Fruit development or seed sets (100%) f) senescence

F2Total ion current chromatograms of a derivatized oleanolic acid (OLA) standard (A) and Quinoa seed extract (B) obtained by GC-MS

Research Team:
- Archis Pandya, Dr. Fabio Fiorani, Dr. Kathryn Dumschott, Dr. Björn Thiele, Dr. Prof Björn Usadel, Dr. Nathalie Wuyts, Prof. Dr. Michelle Watt.

Scientific Partners:
- INIA Chile, genetisches Material, Feldphänotypisierung.
- Prof. Dr. Björn Usadel, RWTH Aachen, Coordinator, Genomik und Datenmanagement
- Prof. Stefanie Bröring, Dr. Laura Carraresi, ILR Bonn, Bioökonomie und Wertschöpfung

Finacial Support: