Indian, Chinese scientists map genome sequence of pigeon pea

Indian and Chinese scientists have traced the origins of the pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), known as the orphan crop. Scientists working on the pigeon pea genotype ICPL 87119, widely known as Asha (or hope in English) in India, have decoded its genome sequence.

They have decoded the richness of this crop in terms of genetic traits and have published the genome sequence of this crop that was domesticated in India around 3,500 years ago.

Thanks to the efforts of the scientists, it will now be possible, from the genome sequencing, that reads like gibberish involving a few characters of the alphabet running into thousands of lines, to fully understand the dynamics of the crop's growth.

Commenting on the development, Dr William Dar, director-general of ICRISAT, said that a couple of hundred of the genes were found unique to the crop in terms of drought tolerance, an important trait that could be transferred to other similar crops like soybean, cowpea or common bean that belong to the same family.

The members of the team of scientists working on the project were drawn from International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT, Hyderabad), CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) and Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI, Shenzhen, China).

The crop is currently an orphan to a large extent with yields much lower than potential yields in the 50 lakh hectares the crop is grown across the world.