Pennisetum

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Abstract

In this chapter, we put emphasis on some insights in genetics, genomics, and evolution of wild/crop complex of species of the genus Pennisetum.

The domestication process as it occurred in the primary gene pool of Pennisetum glaucum is the main thread of this chapter. Indeed, it is currently understood that the challenges and hopes for sustainable uses of genetic resources are by far dependent on the understanding of the dynamics of biodiversity, considered from genes to eco/agrosystems. Domestication is one of the most important technological innovations in human history. Humans and the Poaceae family, to which the Pennisetum genus belongs, are interdependent. The appropriate paradigm for the study of domestication process is necessarily based on a multidisciplinary approach (genetics, cytogenetics, genomics, physiology, archeology, basic botany, anthropology, economic botany, agronomy, etc.). The genus Pennisetum offers favorable conditions to address this issue. Indeed, the occurrence of the domesticated P. glaucum in sympatric or parapatric situations with wild relatives in the Sahelian region is a unique situation for the implementation of the above mentioned paradigm. This chapter addresses three main questions (1) The Structure and evolutionary relationships within Pennisetum complex of species; (2) Domestication process hallmarks in the genus Pennisetum; and (3) Enhancement of genetic resources using genes from wild Pennisetum relatives. Prospects and scope of research, on the role of wild relatives to unravel, from evolutionary point of view, the mechanisms underlying plant adaptation and plasticity, are discussed too. Indeed, this issue could significantly help to uncloak the genetic architecture of the useful traits and then to monitor efficiently wide transfer of genes.