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Harnessing genetic diversity in Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) by characterizing phonologically and genomically of growth, seed compositions and metabolite profiling for modern breeding

These days one of the unlimited impasses is how we will shelter and provide plentiful, healthy and nutritious food for human. The continuously growing population and the alarming environmental degradation together with the lack of arable lands and water and the increasing demand of natural resources for energy production are the biggest challenges modern agriculture has to face nowadays (Ahmad et al., 2012).
Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.), a highly nutritious crop, could be great alternative crops in many countries of the world. It is a pseudo-cereal crop and native to the arid, and semi-arid areas of the Anden region of South America. It is naturally adapted to grow under harsh conditions, such as frost, drought and saline environments. Quinoa seed has remarkable properties with higher levels of proteins and also an excellent balance between essential amino acid, vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals. Based on the FAO’s (Food and Agriculture Organization) guidelines, quinoa is the only crop that provides a highly nutritious and healthy food for human nutrition. Understanding the physiological mechanisms of its notable tolerance to abiotic stresses and genetic basis of these agronomic important plant traits is crucial to achieving yield stability, as well as accelerate research into its phenomenal properties. In this project, our aim is based on a combination of low and high-tech approaches enabling large-scale phenotyping and genotyping of quinoa germplasms both in the field as well as in the controlled environment. Together, these approaches are instrumental in supporting breeding efforts in improvement of quinoa and specifically address the required measure ‘Investigation into agricultural biodiversity in agriculture organisms and wild relatives to uncover potentially important characteristics including the relationship between phenotypic trait expression and its genetic basis.’

This Project is intended to tackle the following research goals:

  • Establish and adapt phenotyping methodologies for canopy and root architecture measurements of quinoa.
  • Link genotypic and phenotypic data and provide markers for beneficial traits including the evaluation of genotypic variability of seed compositions (saponins and phenolic compounds) and biomass related traits.
  • Evaluate the market adaptation at Business to Business level as well as market acceptance at Business to Consumer level of quinoa and its derived products
  • Identify market entry options vs. barriers to quinoa and its derived products.