Biodiversity and Environmental Adaptation of Millet

There has been considerable recent momentum in understanding the domestication history and biogeography of some 40 cultivated taxa (e.g., broomcorn, foxtail, finger, pearl, barnyard millet, fonio and teff) originating from several continents and collectively known as millet. Today, these minor crops are consumed less frequently, thus attracting little scientific attention in comparison to their high-yielding, large-grained counterparts such as wheat, barley and maize. However, they were once among the most expansive food crops in geographical terms, sustaining ancient populations in Africa, Asia, and Europe. The ecological merits of millets—in their drought/stress tolerance, short growing cycle, hardiness, and C4 photosynthetic pathway—make them particularly important in the context of food security and the necessity of agricultural development in marginal environments. In 2022, The FAO Governing Bodies and the UN General Assembly endorsed the proposal of the International Year of Millets in 2023 exclusively acknowledging their deep domestication history and potential for future utility. The resolution was supported by over 70 countries. In this context, we welcome applications from candidates who have active lab or field projects concerning domestication, cultivation history, genetic diversity, stress tolerance of millet and/or social and historical implication of millet cultivation. A successful applicant should demonstrate one or more methodological strengths (examples include but are not limited to: genetic research, stable isotope study, archaeobotany, growing experiment, agricultural landscape/history etc.) who will work closely with LEC fellows Prof. Xinyi Liu (Anthropology;, Prof. Kenneth Olsen (Biology; and Director Robbie Hart (William Brown Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden; serving as co-mentors.

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