In a major breakthrough, scientists from 21 research institutes globally, have successfully completed sequencing of 429 chickpea lines from 45 countries to identify genes for tolerance to drought and heat.
The efforts equipped the team with key insights into the crop’s genetic diversity, domestication and agronomic traits. The study also mapped the origins of chickpea and its ascent in Asia and Africa.
The team led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in close collaboration with the BGI-Shenzhen, China, involved 39 scientists from leading research institutes world over. This is the largest-ever exercise of whole-genome resequencing of chickpea.
What this means to the agricultural community is potential development of newer varieties of chickpea with higher yields, which are disease-and-pest-resistant, and better able to withstand the vagaries of weather.
“The genome-wide association studies identified several candidate genes for 13 agronomic traits. For example, we could identify genes (e.g. REN1, β-1, 3-glucanase, REF6) which can help the crop tolerate temperatures up to 38oC and provide higher productivity,” says Dr Rajeev Varshney, the project leader and Research Program Director, Genetic Gains, ICRISAT.