Moench 1794, conserved name not Sorgum Adanson 1763
Sorghum is a genus of flowering plants in the grass family Poaceae. Seventeen of the twenty-five species are native to Australia, with the range of some extending to Africa, Asia, Mesoamerica, and certain islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
One species is grown for grain, while many others are used as fodder plants, either cultivated in warm climates worldwide or naturalized, in pasture lands. Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugarcane).
One species, Sorghum bicolor, native to Africa with many cultivated forms now, is an important crop worldwide, used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or "sorghum molasses"), animal fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and biofuels. Most varieties are drought- and heat-tolerant, and are especially important in arid regions, where the grain is one of the staples for poor and rural people. These varieties form important components of pastures in many tropical regions. S. bicolor is an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia, and is the fifth-most important cereal crop grown in the world.
In the early stages of the plants' growth some species of sorghum can contain levels of hydrogen cyanide, hordenine, and nitrates which are lethal to grazing animals. When stressed by drought or heat, plants can also contain toxic levels of cyanide and/or nitrates at later stages in growth.
Sorghum is efficient in converting solar energy to chemical energy, and also uses less water compared to other grain crops. Biofuel, using sweet sorghum as a high sugar content from its stalk for ethanol production, is being developed with biomass which can be turned into charcoal, syngas, and bio-oil.
In 2018 researchers identified a mutation that affects a sorghum gene which regulates hormone production. Plants with the mutation produced low levels of jasmonic acid, a development-regulating hormone, particularly during flower development. Sorghum seeds mature from clusters of flowers. These flowers develop from a branched structure at the top of the plant, the panicle. Each panicle can produce hundreds of flowers, which come in two types — sessile spikelets (SS), which are fertile, and pedicellate spikelets (PS), which produce no seeds. In the mutated sorghum, however, both sessile and pedicellate spikelets produced seeds. Lab tests showed that jasmonic acid prevents PSs from producing seeds — the lower hormone levels allow them to become fertile. The mutation triples the plant's productivity.
A 100-gram amount of raw sorghum provides 329 calories, 72% carbohydrates, 4% fat, and 11% protein (table). Sorghum supplies numerous essential nutrients in rich content (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV), including protein; fiber; the B vitamins niacin, thiamin and vitamin B6; and several dietary minerals, including iron (26% DV) and manganese (76% DV) (table). Sorghum nutrient contents generally are similar to those of raw oats (see nutrition table). Unlike oats, sorghum contains no gluten, making it useful for gluten-free diets.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,377 kJ (329 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||6.7 g|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
Many species once considered part of Sorghum, but now considered better suited to other genera include: Andropogon, Arthraxon, Bothriochloa, Chrysopogon, Cymbopogon, Danthoniopsis, Dichanthium, Diectomis, Diheteropogon, Exotheca, Hyparrhenia, Hyperthelia, Monocymbium, Parahyparrhenia, Pentameris, Pseudosorghum, Schizachyrium, and Sorghastrum.
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