Potential role of biotechnology tools for genetic improvement of “lost crops of Africa”: the case of fonio (Digitaria exilis and Digitaria iburua)

  • Danladi Dada Kuta National Biotechnology Advanced Laboratory, Sheda Science and Technology Complex, P.M.B. 186 Garki, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Emmanuel Kwon-Ndung Biotechnology Unit, National Cereals Research Institute, NCRI-Badeggi, P.M.B 8 Bida, Niger State, Nigeria.
  • Stephen Dachi Biotechnology Unit, National Cereals Research Institute, NCRI-Badeggi, P.M.B 8 Bida, Niger State, Nigeria.
  • Mark Ukwungwu Biotechnology Unit, National Cereals Research Institute, NCRI-Badeggi, P.M.B 8 Bida, Niger State, Nigeria.
  • Emmanuel Dada Imolehin Biotechnology Unit, National Cereals Research Institute, NCRI-Badeggi, P.M.B 8 Bida, Niger State, Nigeria.

Abstract

Fonio (Digitaria spp), considered as one of the lost crops of Africa, remains an important food crop for millions of people in Africa. The intimidating challenge today is to produce enough fonio to meet the growing demand for its products. Research has an important role to play in enhancing fonio production in Africa. This paper discusses the innovative research techniques of agricultural biotechnology that are particularly relevant to facilitating the genetic improvement of fonio for higher productivity. The paper considers the potential role of biotechnology applications like DNA markers in understanding the evolution, origin, distribution and diversity of fonio in Africa; somaclonal variation in generating genetic variability in fonio; and genetic transformation in circumventing fonio breeding barriers to introduce alien genes of agronomic importance into fonio.

Key words: Fonio, Digitaria exilis, Digitaria iburua, lost crops.

African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 2 (12), pp. 580-585, December 2003
Published
2004-02-27
Section
Articles

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eISSN: 1684-5315