2023-08-23 Press Release

As the world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, the dependence on the three major cereals - rice, wheat, and corn - is becoming a concern. In response, interest in "orphan crops" is increasing, which have high value as food but whose research has lagged, leaving their potential untapped. Determining the genomes of orphan crops using next-generation sequencing technology is expected to promote their efficient breeding and contribute to the achievement of SDGs such as eradicating hunger and improving nutrition.

An international collaborative research group (including Jeffrey Fawcett, iTHEMS) deciphered the genome sequence of buckwheat, an orphan crop cultivated in Eurasia that is used for making soba noodles in Japan, at the chromosomal level with high precision, revealing the evolution of the buckwheat genome and the origin of cultivated buckwheat. Moreover, they modified the predicted genes using methods that do not rely on genome editing technology. As a result, they successfully developed a glutinous buckwheat and a new self-pollinating buckwheat that did not previously exist. The breeding methods used in this study are expected to contribute to the improvement of a wide variety of orphan crops in which genome editing technology cannot be used.

For more information, please see the Kyoto University press release article at the related links.


  1. Jeffrey A. Fawcett, Ryoma Takeshima, Shinji Kikuchi, Euki Yazaki, Tomoyuki Katsube-Tanaka, Yumei Dong, Meifang Li, Harriet V. Hunt, Martin K. Jones, Diane L. Lister, Takanori Ohsako, Eri Ogiso-Tanaka, Kenichiro Fujii, Takashi Hara, Katsuhiro Matsui, Nobuyuki Mizuno, Kazusa Nishimura, Tetsuya Nakazaki, Hiroki Saito, Naoko Takeuchi, Mariko Ueno, Daiki Matsumoto, Miyu Norizuki, Kenta Shirasawa, Chengyun Li, Hideki Hirakawa, Tatsuya Ota, Yasuo Yasui, Genome sequencing reveals the genetic architecture of heterostyly and domestication history of common buckwheat, Nature Plants 9, 1236–125 (2023), doi: 10.1038/s41477-023-01474-1

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