Decoded chickpea gene could help multiply yield

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) In a scientific breakthrough that promises improved grain yields, greater drought tolerance and disease resistance, a global research team, including Indian scientists, has completed sequencing of chickpea (black gram).

"The project team had 49 scientists from 23 organisations in 10 countries, including Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR)," an official from the agriculture ministry said.

The research 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 global research partnership succeeded in identifying 28,269 genes 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," the official said.

Nature Biotechnology, the highest ranked journal in the area of biotechnology, has featured the research in its latest issue on Jan 27.

Chickpea or gram is the second largest pulse crop in the world, grown in about 11.5 million hectares.

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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