India is preparing for the announcement of two chickpea varieties developed in record time in four years by genome-supported plant breeding. In this first study of its kind, the genotypes in question are both drought tolerant and disease resistant. The varieties were developed in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Institute of India (IARI) and Raichur (Karnataka) University of Agricultural Sciences. Molecular methods and genomic innovations applied in breeding of these varieties seem to be an example for the development of environment and disease-resistant varieties with high yield and quality in legumes such as chickpeas and other self-pollinated plants.
The striking aspect of the study is that it is important to obtain drought tolerant varieties, which are very important for today, beyond cultivation development in a short time. In the reality of global warming that threatens the world, it is a very useful development that drought-resistant genotypes can be developed in such a short time. In fact, both classical and molecular breeding techniques are carried out in terms of drought resistance in plants. However, in the genetic mapping studies of chickpea, no gene has been identified. This time, researchers have turned to gene maps of other characters associated with drought resistance. First, gene maps of drought-related characters such as root depth and root volume were obtained in all chickpea genetic material available. ICC 4958 genes related to drought resistance determined by these studies were transferred to Pusa 372 local and most cultivated cultivars under molecular conditions and Pusa 10216 drought resistant varieties were developed. In many location and year trials, this new variety has yielded 12% more yield than the original.
Annigeri-1 variety, which is highly preferred in Karnataka province, was very sensitive to fusarium spp. disease. Gene transfer from a disease-resistant line (WR315) with above mentioned method has been obtained “Super Annigeri-1” which provides 7% higher yield than the original.
Traditionally, self-fertilized plants such as chickpeas can take 10-11 years to improve new varieties. In the face of the world’s population growth, increasing demand for food and the effects of global warming, the development of new varieties suitable for the purpose in a short time is a great success for world science. The importance of national and international cooperation of scientists in this success cannot be denied. Especially in our century, the global temperature is expected to increase by 2.5 – 4.3 ° C!
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), grown on low input marginal land, is an important legume planted on an area of 13.2 million hectares in the world and produces 11.62 million tons annually. Global chickpea demand is estimated to be 17 million tons in 2020.
Among the various abiotic (salinity, heat) stresses that affect chickpea production, drought stress, especially observed during blooming and grain filling period, is a major limiting factor for chickpea production and yield stability in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Drought causes significant yield losses of up to 50% per year in chickpeas. There is therefore a great need to develop drought tolerant-resistant high yielding chickpea varieties.
Chickpea, which is one of the indispensable foodstuffs for developing world consumer, is waiting just a scientific touch. By making use of the abovementioned molecular breeding, can be made major contributions to the nation’s economy with the new varieties to be obtained. The world consumer under the threat of global climate change expects it and deserves it.
Nazimi Açıkgöz
Note: This article has been summarized and translated from a Turkish link:”

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