Natural variation in synthesis and catabolism genes influences dhurrin content in sorghum

Chad M. Hayes, Gloria B. Burow, Patrick J. Brown, Carrie Thurber, Zhanguo Xin, John J. Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cyanogenic glucosides are natural compounds found in more than 1000 species of angiosperms that produce HCN and are deemed undesirable for agricultural use. However, these compounds are important components of the primary defensive mechanisms of many plant species. One of the best-studied cyanogenic glucosides is dhurrin [(S)-p-hydroxymandelonitrile- β-D-glucopyranoside], which is produced primarily in sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench]. The biochemical basis for dhurrin metabolism is well established; however, little information is available on its genetic control. Here, we dissect the genetic control of leaf dhurrin content through a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using a panel of 700 diverse converted sorghum lines (conversion panel) previously subjected to pre-breeding and selected for short stature (~1 m in height) and photoperiod insensitivity. The conversion panel was grown for 2 yr in three environments. Wide variation for leaf dhurrin content was found in the sorghum conversion panel, with the Caudatum group exhibiting the highest dhurrin content and the Guinea group showing the lowest dhurrin content. A GWAS using a mixed linear model revealed significant associations (a false discovery rate [FDR] < 0.05) close to both UGT 185B1 in the canonical biosynthetic gene cluster on chromosome 1 and close to the catabolic dhurrinase loci on chromosome 8. Dhurrin content was associated consistently with biosynthetic genes in the two N-fertilized environments, while dhurrin content was associated with catabolic loci in the environment without supplemental N. These results suggest that genes for both biosynthesis and catabolism are important in determining natural variation for leaf dhurrin in sorghum in different environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPlant Genome
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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