The aflatoxins are a group of chemically similar poisonous, carcinogenic fungal secondary metabolites produced by Aspergillus flavus, A. parasiticus, and A. nomius, which are abundant in warm and humid regions of the world. They are probably the most intensively researched toxins in the world due to their carcinogenic and mutagenic effects. Aflatoxins have also been identified as a potential biological weapon for food and water contamination. The four major aflatoxins commonly isolated from different foods and feed stuffs are AFB1, AF B2, AFG1, and AFG2. Aflatoxin contamination of food and feed has gained global significance as a result of its deleterious effects on human as well as livestock health including gastrointestinal dysfunction, reduced feed utilization, anemia, jaundice, liver damage and immunity suppression. The profitability and marketing of various agricultural products are adversely affected by either contamination of aflatoxins or aflatoxin‐producing fungi. The foods at highest risk of aflatoxin contamination are maize, chilies, peanuts, and cotton seeds. There are various physical, chemical, and natural methods investigated to prevent aflatoxin production and the growth of aflatoxin‐producing fungus in various agricultural products. Here, we describe various natural plant extracts that would be potential source of controlling aflatoxin production in agricultural products.
Part of the book: Aflatoxin
Nonrenewable energy resources deplete with the passage of time due to rapid increase in industrialization and population. Hence, countries worldwide are investing dearly in substitute energy resources like biofuel from miscellaneous set of feedstocks. Among the energy crops, sorghum serves as a model crop due to its drought tolerance, small genome size (730 Mb), high biomass, dry matter contents, quick growth, wide adaptability to diverse climatic and soil conditions and C4 photosynthesis. Sweet sorghum with high sugar content in stalk is an efficient feedstock for advanced biofuels and other bio-based products from sugars. However, high biomass sorghum has the utility as a feedstock for cellulosic biofuels. The enhanced yield of monomeric carbohydrates is a key to cheap and efficient biofuel production. The efficiency of lignocellulosic biofuels is compromised by recalcitrance to cell wall digestion, a trait that cannot be efficiently improved by traditional breeding. Therefore, scientists are looking for solutions to such problems in biomass crop genomes. Sorghum genome has been completely sequenced and hence this crop qualifies for functional genomics analysis by fast forward genetic approaches. This chapter documents the latest efforts on advancement of sorghum for biomass potential at morphological and molecular level by exploiting genomics approaches.
Part of the book: Advances in Biofuels and Bioenergy
Plant-based renewable biofuels guarantee sustainable solutions to food and energy demands. High-biomass C4 grasses including sugarcane, corn, and sorghum are potential candidates for bioenergy. Among these, sorghum enjoys the status of a highly diverse food, feed, and biofuel source worldwide. The natural attributes like abiotic stress tolerance, diverse genetic base, viable seed industry, and sound breeding system make sorghum a perfect candidate for establishing an efficient and low-cost biofuel industry. Scientists are exploring ways to exploit forage, sweet, and biomass sorghums as climate-smart energy crops. In this context, conventional breeding has played a significant role in developing high-yielding sorghum varieties. For biomass sorghum, stem compositional analysis helps screen low lignin and high polysaccharide types as feedstocks for biofuels. Recent tools of phenomics, genomics, proteomics, and genome editing are key players of designing eco-friendly bioenergy sorghum. Here, we report stem compositional analysis and proteomics-based evaluation of USDA sorghum germplasm as a baseline to develop sorghum as a biofuel feedstock.
Part of the book: Biomass for Bioenergy
For centuries, crop improvement has served as the basis of food security of ever increasing human population. Though vast germplasm collections are available; their exploitation for crop improvement still depends upon efficient assessment of genetic diversity. Genetic variability is the key element in adaptation of plants to varying climates. While crops with narrow genetic diversity are vulnerable to stresses. The estimation of extent and pattern of genetic variability is a prerequisite for generating superior varieties. Genetic diversity analysis generates key information to dissect genetic variations in crop germplasm with the help of morphometrical, biochemical and molecular tools. Among these, DNA markers provide a reliable and detailed insight into the similarities and differences among crops. In this chapter, we discuss the applications of phenotypic and molecular markers to probe genetic divergence in crops and present case studies that describe the significance of these tools to characterize sorghum germplasm. Furthermore, we spotlight sorghum biodiversity exploration efforts worldwide and propose future directions.
Part of the book: Genetic Variation
The success of plant breeding is based on the accessibility of genetic variation, information about desired traits with well-organized approach that make it likely to develop existing genetic resources. Food security demands to break the yield barrier through increasing new cultivars which can adapt to wide range of environment. It is especially important to observe the character association for yield along with its components before recognizing novel technique to break the yield barrier. There are numerous methods for improved exploiting of the inherent genetic makeup of crops with heritable variations. It is recommended that recognized parental resources can also be induced to mutate for unmasking novel alleles of genes that organize the traits suitable for the crop varieties of the 21st century world. Chemical mutagens have extensively been applied to make genetic changes in crop plants for breeding investigation as well as genetic studies. Ethyl methane sulphonate (EMS) is the most frequently applied as chemical agents in plants. EMS normally induces GC → AT transitions in the genome causing mutated protein that performed different functions rather than normal. It is exposed that the utilization of EMS is an efficient approach for developing novel gene pool.
Part of the book: Genetic Variation