Genomics sheds light on origins of Guinea yam
Understanding the genetic diversity of yam is crucial for improving this important crop. When researchers at IITA and partners analyzed the genome of the Guinea yam (Dioscorea rotundata) by sequencing 336 accessions of yam, including its wild relatives (D. abyssinica and D. praehensilis), they found that the domesticated Guinea yam is probably a hybrid of these two wild yams. Although the wild relatives are unsuitable for agriculture, they are a rich source of genes not found in domesticated yams. Gene banks have few accessions of wild yams, so collecting and conserving these species will be important for future breeding of Guinea yam.
Future improvement of yams like these, seen here in a market in Benin, will depend on collecting and conserving their wild relatives. R. Terauchi (Iwate Biotechnology Research Center and University of Kyoto)
POSSIBLE ORIGIN OF GUINEA YAM