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Global research team decodes genome sequence of 90 chickpea lines

Posted on Jan 30, 09:33AM | UNI

New Delhi, Jan 29: The Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has once again made India proud by achieving yet another milestone in crop research

This time, it made the breakthrough in completing high-quality sequencing of not one but ninety genomes of chickpea(Chana), that promises improved grain yields and quality, greater drought tolerance and disease resistance, and enhanced genetic diversity

The research was the result of years of genome analysis by the International Chickpea Genome Sequencing Consortium (ICGSC) led by the ICRISAT, involving 49 scientists from 23 organizations in 10 countries

The global research partnership succeeded in identifying an estimated 28,269 genes of chickpea after sequencing CDC Frontier, a kabuli (large-seeded) chickpea variety. Re-sequencing of additional 90 genotypes provided millions of genetic markers and low diversity genome regions that may be used in the development of superior varieties with enhanced drought tolerance and disease resistance

This will help chickpea farmers become more resilient to emerging challenges brought about by the threat of climate change. The genome map can also be used to harness genetic diversity by broadening the genetic base of cultivated chickpea genepool

Nature Biotechnology, the highest ranked journal in the area of biotechnology, featured the reference genome of the CDC Frontier chickpea variety and genome sequence of 90 cultivated and wild genotypes from 10 different countries, as an online publication on January 27

The paper provides a map of the structure and functions of the genes that define the chickpea plant. It also reveals clues on how the sequence can be useful to crop improvement for sustainable and resilient food production toward improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers particularly in marginal environments of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa

Chickpea is the second largest cultivated grain food legume in the world, grown in about 11.5 million hectares mostly by resource poor farmers in the semi-arid tropics. The highly nutritious, drought-tolerant chickpea contributes to income generation and improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers in African countries like Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya, and is crucial to the food security in India (being the largest producer, consumer and importer of the crop). Chickpea is also an important component of the pulse industry in Australia, Canada and USA