Prebreeding Using Wild Species for Genetic Enhancement of Grain Legumes at ICRISAT

Like many other major crops, ICRISAT’s mandate grain legume crops have a narrow genetic base. The production and productivity of these crops is adversely affected by different biotic and abiotic stresses, and high levels of resistance or tolerance to these stresses are not available in the cultivated genepool. In contrast, wild species harbor many useful genes and have potential to thrive well under climatic extremities. However, utilization of these wild species for the genetic improvement of crop cultivars is hindered mainly due to ploidy level differences between cultivated and wild species, cross-incompatibility barriers, and linkage drag. Systematic prebreeding efforts involving wild species of Cicer, Cajanus, and Arachis as donors and popular well-adapted cultivars of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), pigeonpea [Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.], and groundnut (Arachis hypogea L.) as recipient parents, respectively, have led to the development of new genepools having good agronomic performance and higher frequency of useful genes and alleles introgressed from wild species. Evaluation of a few populations for biotic stresses and yield-related traits resulted in the identification of desirable introgression lines (ILs) that have been shared with NARS for use in breeding programs. Overall, prebreeding ensures continuous supply of novel and diverse genetic variability derived from wild species in readily usable form into the breeding pipelines to develop new climate-resilient cultivars with a broad genetic base.
Category: Breeding
Authors: Sharma, S.
Journal/Series: Crop Science
Publication Year: 2017

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