In a scientific breakthrough that promises improved grain yields and quality, greater drought tolerance and disease resistance, and enhanced genetic diversity, a global research team has completed high-quality sequencing of not one but ninety genomes of chickpea (=gram / chana).
Nature Biotechnology, the highest ranked journal in the area of biotechnology, has featured the research in its latest issue, dated January 27 2013.
The research milestone was the result of years of genome analysis by the International Chickpea Genome Sequencing Consortium led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The project team had 49 scientists from 23 organizations in 10 countries, including ICAR from India.
The global research partnership succeeded in identifying – 28,269 genes of kabuli variety of chickpea. Re-sequencing of additional 90 chickpea types provided millions of genetic markers. This has great potential in developing drought tolerant and disease resistant varieties of this important pulse crop.
Chickpea or gram is the second largest pulse crop in the world, grown in about 11.5 million hectares. It is grown mostly by poor farmers and in dry areas. It is is highly nutritious. While India is the largest producer (also importer and consumer) of chickpea, it is grown in a number of African countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. Chickpea is also an important component of the pulse industry in Australia, Canada and USA.
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