STRAIT KIN: A Collaborative Innovation Network for Sorghum Traits Has Been Awarded a $1 Million Grant by the USDA

A Kansas State University Program, Sorghum Trait Collaborative Innovation Network (STRAIT KIN), has been awarded a $1 million grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The project is “A Collaborative Innovation Network for Sorghum Traits.” Centering this effort at Kansas State is important as Kansas ranks number 1 in production of grain sorghum in the U.S. More than 200 million bushels of sorghum are grown in Kansas each year, which comprises almost half of U.S. grain sorghum production, totaling over $1.8 billion. The STRAIT KIN team, composed of Terry Felderhoff, Sandeep Marla, Geoffrey Morris and Sarah Sexton-Bowser, aims to build a network connecting public and private groups involved in sorghum research, development and production. Historically, a deficit of concerted interaction between researchers and seed developers has slowed innovation. Integration is key. United Sorghum Checkoff, the Kansas Grain Sorghum Commission and private seed companies like Innovative Seed Solutions and Corteva AgriScience are collaborating with the STRAIT KIN team to achieve this integration. The grant will fund efforts to advance sorghum trait technology through an annual exchange in which both public discoveries and developments can be evaluated and the needs of private partners will be heard. The project will support the development of candidate markers for sorghum traits and designer donor lines for use across public and private sorghum improvement programs. For the 2023-2024 season the traits that will be focused on include:

  • Biotic traits
    • sorghum aphid resistance and striga resistance
  • Abiotic traits
    • early-season chilling tolerance and post-flowering drought tolerance (staygreen)
  • Ideotype
    • stable plant height, maturity, and grain tannins

To participate in this ambitious, far reaching project, members of the sorghum community can contact Sarah Sexton-Bowser to set up a testing agreement and  a phone meeting with STRAIT KIN to participate in the winter testing, contact team members to let them know what key traits customers need, or join the Center for Sorghum Improvement mailing list. For more information view a two-page powerpoint outlining key ideas at the following link.