The near-complete genome of quinoa was unveiled on Wednesday by scientists who say the grain cultivated centuries ago by Incas in the Andes could help feed a hungry world.
Researchers have now completed the first high-quality sequence of the quinoa genome, and they have begun pointing to genes that could be manipulated to change the way the plant matures and produces food. This project brought together 33 researchers from 4 continents, including 20 people from 7 research groups at KAUST.
“Quinoa is incredibly resilient, and can grow in poor or salty soils,” said Mark Tester, a professor at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and leader of the consortium of scholars that decoded the plant’s genome.
“It could provide a healthy, nutritious food source for the world using land and water that currently cannot be used.”
The plants can also support bigger seed heads and can be grown closer to together in large fields.
The research saw 33 researchers from four continents use a combination of cutting-edge sequencing technologies and genetic mapping to piece together chromosomes.
The United States and Canada account for nearly 70% of exports, followed by France, the Netherlands and Germany. The price of quinoa has nearly tripled in recent years due to increased demand.