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2 grants to UC Riverside boost scientists' efforts in developing improved cowpea varieties
Date:10/30/2013

rant that supports a new five-year cowpea-breeding project with partners in four West African nations: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal. The second grant, titled "Genetic improvement of cowpea to overcome biotic stress and drought constraints," extends a ten-year project and brings additional funding of about $2 million over four-and-a-half years to UCR through the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Grain Legumes as a sub-contract with Michigan State University, East Lansing.

Specific traits of interest for cowpea improvement will include resistance to the drought-associated fungal pathogen Macrophomina phaseolina, tolerance against drought-induced early senescence, and resistance to insects, nematodes and other diseases, along with high yield and maintenance of traits of especial interest to Africa such as seed size, seed coat color and patterns.

"UCR cowpea research goes back more than 30 years," said Timothy Close, a professor of genetics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences and the principal investigator of the $5 million grant. "The USAID funding through Feed the Future is recognition of the tremendous value that UCR brings to cowpea research and the positive impact it is having on cowpea breeding for African farmers."

Cowpea originated in Africa. It is known also as southern pea, blackeye pea, crowder pea, lubia, niebe, coupe or frijole. In the United States, cowpea is popular in the south, where it is known as blackeyed peas and other names. California primarily grows the blackeyed dry-grain cowpea type.

"Both research projects are intimately tied to our collaborators in sub-Saharan Africa," Close said. "Beyond the technical capability we offer, we have a good network of partners in Africa for on-the-ground a
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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