Global research team decodes gene sequence of chickpea

A global research team has completed high-quality sequencing of ninety genomes of chickpea (gram / chana) in a scientific breakthrough that could help improve grain yields and quality, enhance drought tolerance, disease resistance and genetic diversity.

The research has been featured in the latest issue of biotechnology journal `Nature Biotechnology'.

The breakthrough 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 consisted of 49 scientists from 23 organisations 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 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 the US.