Addressing Iron and Zinc Micronutrient Malnutrition Through Nutrigenomics in Pearl Millet: Advances and Prospects
Iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) micronutrient deficiencies are significant health concerns, particularly among the underprivileged and resource-poor people in the semi-arid tropics globally. Pearl millet is regarded as a climate-smart crop with low water and energy footprints. It thrives well under adverse agro-ecologies such as high temperatures and limited rainfall. Pearl millet is regarded as a nutri-cereal owing to health-promoting traits such as high grain Fe and Zn content, metabolizable energy, high antioxidant and polyphenols, high proportion of slowly digestible starches, dietary fibers, and favorable essential amino acid profile compared to many cereals. Higher genetic variability for grain Fe and Zn content has facilitated considerable progress in mapping and mining QTLs, alleles and genes underlying micronutrient metabolism. This has been made possible by developing efficient genetic and genomic resources in pearl millet over the last decade. These include genetic stocks such as bi-parental RIL mapping populations, association mapping panels, chromosome segment substitution lines (CSSLs) and TILLING populations. On the genomics side, considerable progress has been made in generating genomic markers, such as SSR marker repository development. This was followed by the development of a next-generation sequencing-based genome-wide SNP repository. The circa 1,000 genomes re-sequencing project played a significant role. A high-quality reference genome was made available by re-sequencing of world diversity panel, mapping population parents and hybrid parental lines. This mini-review attempts to provide information on the current developments on mapping Fe and Zn content in pearl millet and future outlook.