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Eleusine is a small grass genus (eight species), predominantly African, which includes the finger millet ( E. coracana subsp. coracana ), an important subsistence crop in Africa and India, and the goosegrass ( E. indica ), one of the most problematic weeds in the world. Other species are E. floccifolia , E. intermedia , E. jaegeri , E. kigeziensis , E. multiflora , and the South American E. tristachya . This chapter reviews earlier and current research in the genus and provides a general characterization of its species, including comparative morphology, cytogenetics, and molecular phylogeny. The ecology, geography, known uses, and existing or potential economic impacts of the species are also addressed. The origin and evolution of finger millet and its domestication from its wild ancestor, E. coracana subsp. africana , are reviewed. For many years, research on this cereal had been neglected, but recently, with the support of international programs and the application of new technologies of genetic and molecular characterization, crucial developments have been achieved, including the construction of a genetic map for E. coracana . DNA markers are being used for screening and characterization of germplasm collections and are expected to be used for marker-assisted selection of new finger millet varieties that may be resistant to blast disease or drought conditions. Research on finger millet and its wild relatives is now progressing in the right direction and investment on the breeding of new varieties may bring great economic pay off and improvement in the lives of millions of people in deprived areas of Africa and Asia. This chapter also discusses problems caused by some Eleusine species, namely the impact on genetically modified crops of new resistant biotypes of the noxious weed goosegrass. Finally, future prospects and some recommendations to address current limitations on knowledge and available resources for the Eleusine species are also discussed.
Original languageUnknown
Title of host publicationWild crop relatives: genomic and breeding resources
EditorsChittaranjan Kole
Place of PublicationHeidelberg
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
ISBN (Print)978-3-642-14255-0
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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