Dr. Bill Rooney has developed Onyx, a black sorghum hybrid that is produced by crossing ATx3363 and RTx3362, both developed by AgriLife Research.
This grain sorghum hybrid is unique, because the outer layer of the grain (more commonly known as bran) is black, Rooney said. The black color is the result of high concentrations of anthocyanins, which are also antioxidants.
“This type of sorghum would be suitable for the cereal market,” Rooney said. “You could grind this and turn it into flour for food use. You could also take the bran to concentrate the antioxidants in this form; there are a lot of potential applications for this.”
The color in Onyx is derived from the RTx3362 line, but hybridization was necessary to increase grain yield to levels acceptable for production, Rooney said. Currently, obstacles facing sorghum growers targeting production for the health food markets are stability, production, cost and yield.
Rooney said that Onyx partially addresses this issue. Its yield potential is approximately 65-70 percent of a commercial grain sorghum hybrid.
He said this hybrid is designed for niche market-production – it will not be widely grown or distributed.
Production will be a cooperative effort among AgriLife Research, specific niche-market sorghum producers and end-users or processors who are willing to pay a premium for the grain so they can use it in health-food products.
Other project contributors from the sorghum breeding lab are Chad Hayes and Ostilio Portillo. In addition, Drs. Lloyd W. Rooney, Joseph Awika and Linda Dykes from the Cereal Quality Laboratory in the department of soil and sciences at Texas A&M University assisted in the characterization of the antioxidants in this hybrid.
The line is currently in the licensing phase through The Texas A&M University System Office of Technology Commercialization.