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The agronomic performance of sand rice (Agriophyllum squarrosum), a potential semi-arid crop species

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Agriophyllum squarrosum (sand rice), a member of the Amaranthaceae family adapted to arid to semi-arid conditions in central Asia, produces highly nutritious seed. Three ecotypes collected from sand dunes in the western Chinese arid desert region (Linze, Minqin and Shapotou) and three from the semi-arid desert region (Duolun, Naiman, and Aerxiang) were grown in loess soil at an experimental station (Gaolan) to characterize their performance with respect to plant architecture and seed yield-associated traits. The ecotypes originating from the more arid sites developed into taller, more strongly branching plants, formed thicker stems and a greater number of spikes. Those collected from the semi-arid sites developed larger seeds and were of shorter duration. The highest seed yields were obtained from the Aerxiang ecotype (129.55 g/m2). The same ecotype also exhibited both the highest emergence rate and the most favorable harvest index. The study represents the first assessment of the agronomic performance of sand rice and shows what needs to be done to domesticate and improve the species before it can be considered as a viable crop species.

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This research was funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31870381), one of National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFE0203400), and by the Youth Innovation Promotion Association, CAS (2018463).

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Correspondence to Zhongkui Xie or Guoxiong Chen.

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Zhang, J., Zhao, J., Zhou, Q. et al. The agronomic performance of sand rice (Agriophyllum squarrosum), a potential semi-arid crop species. Genet Resour Crop Evol 65, 2293–2301 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10722-018-0689-3

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  • Agriophyllum squarrosum
  • Amaranthaceae
  • Domestication
  • Loess soil
  • Wild plant
  • Sandy desert