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Global research team decodes genome sequence of 90 chickpea lines

Hyderabad, India, and Shenzhen, China (28 January 2013) In a scientific breakthrough that promises improved grain yields and quality, greater drought tolerance and disease resistance, and enhanced genetic diversity, a global research team has completed high-quality sequencing of not one but ninety genomes of chickpea.

Nature Biotechnology, the highest ranked journal in the area of biotechnology, featured the reference genome of the CDC Frontier chickpea variety and genome sequence of 90 cultivated and wild genotypes from 10 different countries, as an online publication on 27 January 2013. The paper provides a map of the structure and functions of the genes that define the chickpea plant. It also reveals clues on how the sequence can be useful to crop improvement for sustainable and resilient food production toward improved livelihoods of smallholder farmers particularly in marginal environments of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The research milestone was the result of years of genome analysis by the International Chickpea Genome Sequencing Consortium (ICGSC) led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) headquartered in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh India, involving 49 scientists from 23 organizations in 10 countries. ICRISAT is a member of the CGIAR Consortium.

The global research partnership succeeded in identifying an estimated 28,269 genes of chickpea after sequencing CDC Frontier, a kabuli (large-seeded) chickpea variety. Re-sequencing of additional 90 genotypes provided millions of genetic markers and low diversity genome regions that may be used in the development of superior varieties with enhanced drought tolerance and disease resistance. This will help chickpea farmers become more resilient to emerging challenges brought about by the threat of climate change. The genome map can also be used to harness genetic diversity by broadening the genetic base of cultivated chickpea genepool.

Chickpea is

Contact: Jia Liu
BGI Shenzhen

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