To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

November 10, 2011

Scientists crack genetic code of drought-resistant pigeonpea

by Kirk Klocke

Pigeonpea - a minor agricultural crop more common in rural backyards than plowed fields, reached a milestone on November 6 when Indian and Chinese researchers announced the decoding of the plant's genome.

Pigeonpea grows in semi-arid regions, but suffers from relatively low yields, experts say, which impedes its development as a potential nutrition source in developing nations.

Researchers said they hoped the pigeonpea genomic map, the first for any non-industrial crop, would lead to improved breeding programs for a plant that has seen a 56 percent increase in global crop production since 1976.

Researchers from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), headquartered in Andhra Pradesh, India, decoded the pigeonpea genome five years after the Indian Council of Agricultural Research funded the initiative.

The ICRISAT researchers published the pigeonpea genome code on Sunday in the journal Nature Biotechnology. ICRISAT Director General William Dar said mapping the pigeonpea genome is a breakthrough because the plant has unique qualities that make it a powerful tool in the fight against hunger, especially in places like the horn of Africa.

"The mapping of the pigeonpea genome could not have come at a better time," Dar said in a statement. "Modern crop improvement technologies for smallholder farmer crops such as pigeonpea will be crucial to speed up the development of improved varieties that can provide high yields and improved livelihoods, and at the same time meet the challenges of marginal environments and the threat of climate change and scare natural resources."

The pigeonpea project was a partnership between ICRISAT and BGI Shenzen. Scientists say having this wealth of information about the pigeonpea can help them make new varieties of the grain much faster, keeping pace with the rapidly changing climate. The researchers notably found genes that could transfer to more agriculturally significant crops such as soybeans.

"At the moment, in general, it can take six to 10 years to breed a new variety. With the use of this genome sequence data, in the future, we could be breeding a new variety in just about three years," said Rajeev Varshney, the lead ICRISAT scientist on the project.

IB Times

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by

Back to TOP