Proso Millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) Breeding: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities

  • Dipak K. SantraEmail author
  • Rituraj Khound
  • Saurav Das


Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) is an annual cereal crop domesticated approximately 10,000 years ago in the semiarid regions of China. It is primarily grown in India, Nigeria, Niger, and China. Proso millet is used in Europe and North America as fodder and birdseed despite its highly nutritive and health-promoting benefits. Recently, the high content of different minerals and amino acids along with a low glycemic index and gluten-free property of the grains have attracted the industry and scientific communities. Proso millet has been used as a rotational crop in the winter wheat-fallow cropping system in the western Great Plains of the USA owing to its high water-use efficiency. This practice not only prevents the loss of organic matter from the no-till soil but also reduces weed and disease pressure. Regardless of the impeccable environmental and health benefits of proso millet, it remains as an under researched and underutilized crop. Plant breeders across the globe are trying to develop superior varieties using both classical and advanced breeding procedures. However, the lack of a genetic map and adequate genomic resources has slowed the crop improvement process. Proso millet germplasm representing a wide genetic diversity is conserved in gene banks maintained by several countries. The rapid growth in genomic research in the form of a linkage map development, novel molecular marker identification and availability of next-generation sequencing, together with high-throughput phenotyping promise to accelerate proso millet breeding. The development of proso millet cultivars which are high yielding, lodging and seed-shattering tolerant, direct combine-ready and nutrient enriched, would promote its increased cultivation, and use in the food industry.


Gluten-free Glycemic index Molecular marker Semiarid Small millet Rotational crop Water-use efficiency 



The authors acknowledge informal contributions on various aspects of proso millet genetic and breeding (often unpublished) by global proso millet scientists at various national and international scientific meetings.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Panhandle Research and Extension CenterScottsbluffUSA

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