Editorial on the Research Topic
Setaria as a Model Genetic System to Accelerate Yield Increases in Cereals, Forage Crops, and Bioenergy Grasses
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Setaria is a model C4 grass in the tribe Paniceae of the subfamily Panicoideae, closely related to switchgrass, napier grass, and, pearl millet, and, in the sister tribe, closely related to important crops such as maize, sorghum, and sugar cane. The model comprises two species, foxtail millet ( Setaria italica ), domesticated in the Yellow River valley in China approximately 9–11, 000 years ago, and its wild progenitor, green foxtail ( Setaria viridis ), which is one of the world’s most widespread weeds. Setaria , particularly green foxtail, differs from its more important biofuel and crop relatives in that it is small in stature and fast cycling and has a small genome. As such, it is ideally suited to greenhouse and growth experiments, as well as being capable of being grown in field plots. Over the last 10 years, numerous resources have been created for both species, including annotated genomes, mutant and field collections, transformation protocols, and gene atlases. Some of these advances were detailed in a volume in the Springer Crop Genetics and Genomics volume released in 2017 ( Doust and Diao, 2017 ). The current collection of papers in this Research Topic, covering domestication, developmental genetics, mutant analysis, microbiomes, and technical advances, shows how far the field has progressed even in the short time since that volume.
Several papers deal with the genetics of domestication and improvement. Hu et al. present an overview of domestication and improvement in Setaria , focusing on key traits that differ between foxtail millet and its wild progenitor green foxtail. Concentrating on the domestication and improvement traits of shattering, plant architecture and flowering time, the paper summarizes known information and points out new opportunities for improvement in drought stress and nutrient efficiencies.