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Abstract Detail

Colloquium: Speaking of Food: connecting basic and applied science

Pearl, Stephanie [1], Bowers, John [1], Burke, John [1].

Genetics of Carthamus tinctorius L. (safflower): Domestication, diversity, and evolution of Carthamus.

Carthamus tinctorius L. (safflower) is a drought resistant crop grown throughout the world and in many underdeveloped countries for its seeds, which contain oils rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Safflower has a single origin of domestication dating to approximately 4000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent region and was subsequently spread throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa for further cultivation. After its introduction to North America in the late 1800s, safflower began to be commercialized in the 1950s and is now used as a cooking oil that offers valuable health benefits. Safflower has a deep taproot that enables it to thrive in areas where surface moisture is limited and therefore can be grown in marginal cropping lands and survive in the face of our increasingly variable climate. Despite its potential utility, safflower remains an underutilized crop for which few genetic resources exist to aid its advancement. Here, we describe the genetic resources we created to study the genetics of safflower domestication and gain insights into the potential improvement of this crop. First, we investigated the genetic architecture of domestication traits in safflower through a QTL analysis of a mapping population derived from a cross between safflower and its progenitor (Carthamus palaestinus Eig.). Additionally, we examined genome evolution in the Compositae, focusing on safflower and two other important Compositae crops (Helianthus annuus L. [sunflower] and Lactuca sativa L. [lettuce]). By identifying syntenic relationships and comparing positions of homologous QTL among these species, we could also investigate whether the parallel domestication of common traits in these three species was due to parallel genotypic evolution. Finally, we assessed the genetic diversity within and among wild, cultivated, and commercialized safflowers. In addition to providing insights into the origins of America’s commercial safflower breeding materials, this work provides a first look into the extent to which cultivated safflower accessions (maintained by the USDA) can be used to introgress novel genetic diversity into commercial safflower varieties and consequently accelerate the improvement of safflower in current North American breeding programs.

Broader Impacts:

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Related Links:
Compositae Genome Project Safflower Page

1 - University of Georgia, Department of Plant Biology, Miller Plant Science Rm. 2502, 120 Carlton St., Athens, Georgia, 30602, United States

population genetics
parallel evolution

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: C7
Location: Grand Ballroom A/Riverside Hilton
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
Time: 2:30 PM
Number: C7003
Abstract ID:192
Candidate for Awards:Margaret Menzel Award

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