Sandeep Sati, Anshika Kapur, Sayan Chatterjee
University School of Biotechnology, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi, India.

Whole grains are of critical importance to the human diet. The major cereal grains consumed include wheat, rice, oats, barley and maize whereas millets like sorghum and bajra are considered to be minor grains. Since millets have a poor grain quality, their consumptions and popularity is not comparable to the other major cereal grains. Bajra (Pennisetum glaucum), an important food millet (Pearl Millet), is inexpensive and is consumed in many parts of Africa and Asia. Also, several reports have clearly shown that bajra is nutritionally comparable or even superior to major cereals. The nutritional value is also attributed by presence of antioxidants. The level of antioxidants gets elevated under stress conditions, to protect themselves from injury caused by the oxidative stress. The present study was carried out to search for sequence homology of Pennisetum glaucum with other popular food grains, with special emphasis on genes responsible for stress tolerance which has not yet been explored. The genes selected for phylogenetic analysis include genes coding for HSP 17.9, APX, Cu-Zn SOD, VATPc, voltage dependent anion channel protein, etc for which the sequences were obtained from NCBI database. A BLAST search was then done to compare the above sequences with the sequences present in the database. Using a well defined criterion few sequences were selected and various softwares were used to generate phylogenetic trees. These trees indicated that the chosen gene sequences are conserved in rice, wheat, maize, sorghum, barley and even oats which are considered to be the staple foods consumed all over the world. Therefore it can be concluded that the levels of antioxidants in bajra is comparable to those in staple crops. Here we propose a cheaper yet equally nutritious alternative to these – Bajra. It proved to have anti-oxidant properties on top of its nutritional value. The study reveals that Bajra may be as nutritious and having other health benefits as the popular food grains, in many aspects like anti-oxidant properties, etc. A further scope of the work has been comparison of different phylogenetic softwares and algorithms to optimize the results in each case. Read more…

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