Crop Biotech Update

Nigerian Scientists Make Progress on Cowpea Breeding

March 31, 2010

Through genome mapping, scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria, will soon be able to "facilitate progress in the conventional development of improved cowpea varieties with traits such as drought-tolerance."

Researcher Eugene Agbicodo at IITA worked on the genetic analysis of drought-tolerance in cowpea and was able to construct a linkage map of the crop and identify portions on the cowpea genome where drought tolerant and bacterial blight genes are located. Researchers are now discussing similar research outputs of the University of California, USA to see areas of agreement.

"If both parties are able to find areas of agreement or concurrence, such areas of the genome would be of immense benefit when marker assisted selection is to be applied in cowpea breeding. So what will take about 10 years to accomplish could be done in three years or even less," said Christian Fatokun, cowpea breeder, who supervised the work at IITA.

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