Mutation in the seed storage protein kafirin creates a high-value food trait in sorghum

Yongrui Wu, Lingling Yuan, Xiaomei Guo, David R. Holding, Joachim Messing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Sustainable food production for the earth's fast-growing population is a major challenge for breeding new high-yielding crops, but enhancing the nutritional quality of staple crops can potentially offset limitations associated with yield increases. Sorghum has immense value as a staple food item for humans in Africa, but it is poorly digested. Although a mutant exhibiting high-protein digestibility and lysine content has market potential, the molecular nature of the mutation is previously unknown. Here, building on knowledge from maize mutants, we take a direct approach and find that the high-digestible sorghum phenotype is tightly linked to a single-point mutation, rendering the signal peptide of a seed storage protein kafirin resistant to processing, indirectly reducing lysine-poor kafirins and thereby increasing lysine-rich proteins in the seeds. These findings indicate that a molecular marker can be used to accelerate introduction of this high nutrition and digestibility trait into different sorghum varieties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2217
JournalNature communications
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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