Agri Business

Icrisat-led global team decodes genome sequence of chickpea

Vishwanath Kulkarni New delhi | Updated on March 13, 2018 Published on January 28, 2013

Breakthrough: (from right) Rajeev K. Varshney, Director, CEG, Icrisat; William D. Dar, Director-General, Icrisat, and Ashish Bahuguna, Agriculture Secretary, addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Monday. — Kamal Narang

Genome sequencing would help plant breeders develop newer varieties that can yield more and are drought and disease tolerant.

In a major breakthrough, a team of global scientists led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) have decoded the genome sequence of chickpea or chana.

The genome sequencing would help plant breeders develop newer varieties that can yield more and are drought and disease tolerant. The development assumes significance as India is the largest producer, consumer and importer of chickpea.

“It will be a boon to small farmers as genome sequencing will play a crucial role in accelerating the development of new and improved varieties,” said William Dar, Director-General, ICRISAT. Genome sequencing could help raise the yield potential to about 2 tonnes per hectare from the current 1 t per ha, he said.

About 49 scientists from 23 organisations in 10 countries, including the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, collaborated in the genome analysis. The Hyderabad-based ICRISAT led the International Chickpea Genome Sequencing Consortium that sequenced 90 chikpea genomes. The University of California-Davis, BGI-Shenzen and research partners in countries such as Canada, Australia and Germany collaborated in the genome analysis.

An estimated 28,269 genes of chickpea were identified during the project that last for more than two years, said Rajeev Varshney, leader of the chickpea genome sequencing consortium.

Varshney said the sequencing would help reduce the time to breed new chick pea varieties as plant breeders would now have access to genes with the required traits. Currently, it takes four to eight years to breed a new chickpea variety.

“Chick pea is mainly grown by small and marginal farmers. Any breakthrough in research through new varieties would help farmers realise better incomes,” said Ashish Bahuguna, Agriculture Secretary.

Chickpea is the second largest pulse crop in the world, grown in about 11.5 million hectares. The highly nutritious crop is grown mostly by poor farmers and in dry areas. Besides India, chana is also is grown in a number of African countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. It is also an important component of the pulse industry in Australia, Canada and the US.

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Published on January 28, 2013
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