Crop Biotech Update

Global Team Sequences 429 Chickpea Lines from 45 Countries to Develop High-Yielding, Climate Resilient Crop

May 8, 2019

A study conducted by scientists from 21 research institutions all over the world has successfully completed the sequencing of 429 chickpea lines from 45 countries and identified genes that could help develop drought and heat tolerant chickpeas. Led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and BGI-Shenzen, the research team came from 39 leading research institutes.

Lead researcher Dr. Rajeev Varshney said the team identified genes such as REN1, β-1, 3-glucanase and REF6 which can help crops tolerate temperatures up to 38 degrees Celsius and produce higher yields. Genome-wide association studies identified 262 markers and several candidate genes for 13 traits.

The study also tracked the origins of chickpeas, and confirms that the crop came to India from the Fertile Crescent/Mediterranean via Afghanistan and may have been introduced back to the primary centers of origin after 200 years. "Our study indicates Ethiopia as a secondary center of diversity and also maps a migration route from the Mediterranean/Fertile Crescent to Central Asia, and in parallel from Central Asia to East Africa (Ethiopia) and South Asia (India)," said Dr. Varshney.

Results published in Nature Genetics state that more than 90% of chickpea is planted in India, where the highest genetic diversity was observed.

For more details, read the news releases from ICRISAT and the University of Western Australia.