Sorghum highlights of the 2023 Plant and Animal Genome Conference #PAG 30

The Plant and Animal Genome (PAG) Conference took place in San Diego, California from January 13-18 of 2023. The conference covered the most recent developments in Plant and Animal Genomics, with a full program consisting of scientific workshops, plenary speakers, industry workshops, digital tools and resources sessions, posters sessions, and exhibits with community resources and industry related products and services.

With climate change on everyone’s minds, sorghum was a hot topic of discussion at PAG 30. Ian Godwin, director of the Center of Crop Science of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, and author of “Good Enough to Eat?” gave a spectacular plenary talk in which he addressed some of the recent challenges associated with climate change in Australia, including routine 100-year floods, droughts, and fires. In Australia, sorghum, rather than maize, is the  #1 grain, capable of producing more biomass with less water, higher nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), and higher heat tolerance at flowering time. Ian highlighted his work manipulating genes to improve grain quality by increasing protein digestibility, protein content and grain size. He discussed testing on apomictic sorghums using GM/CRISPR experiments focused on grain quality and plant architecture. Via Twitter, Ian hoped to have convinced a few more people that sorghum is the international crop of the future.

After a 2-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SorghumBase made a second appearance at PAG. Kapeel Chougule presented the talk titled “SorghumBase 2023: Building Partnerships and Integrating Genetic Knowledge for the Sorghum Community” during the Sorghum/Millet session, and a related poster. The session featured another four talks by Jianming Yu, Subhadra Chakrabarty, Kumar Shrestha, and Christine Diepenbrock.

Ware lab members also represented SorghumBase at the AgBioData community booth exhibit, a platform that allowed us to meet face-to-face with some of our users, spread the word about data and resources in the site, and recruit more users. Similarly valuable were the interactions with representatives and principal investigators leading other bioinformatics resources, strengthening existing relationships or developing new ones.

Designed to provide a forum on recent developments and future plans for plant and animal genome projects, the conference provided an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and applications for the future of sorghum research and community resources like SorghumBase.

Another target for SorghumBase is the identification of genetic variation data sets generated by the community. Take the survey “Got SNPs?” to help us track additional genetic variation datasets in plants!

Do you have omics data that you would like to share via SorghumBase’s infrastructure? Or would you like to schedule a virtual training session for your institution to learn everything that SorghumBase has to offer? We are in the process of updating SorghumBase’s mailing list! Please feel free to contact us via email or use our feedback form to help you with any of these.

The SorghumBase project is funded by USDA-ARS-8062-21000-041-00D.