Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ICRISAT-led team cracks pigeonpea genome

07.11.2011
First legume genome sequence to improve livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the dryland tropics

Hyderabad, India and Shenzhen, China, 06 November 2011 – Once referred to as an "orphan crop" mainly grown by poor farmers, pigeonpea is now set to join the world's league of major food crops with the completion of its genome sequence.

The completed genome sequence of pigeonpea is featured as an advance online publication on 06 November 2011 on the website of the journal Nature Biotechnology, the first ranked journal in the area of biotechnology. The paper provides an overview of the structure and function of the genes that define the pigeonpea plant. It also reveals clues on how the genomic sequence can be useful to crop improvement for sustainable food production particularly in the marginal environments of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Years of genome analysis by a global research partnership led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in Hyderabad, India have resulted in the identification of 48,680 pigeonpea genes. A couple of hundreds of these genes were found unique to the crop in terms of drought tolerance, an important trait that can be transferred to other similar crops like soybean, cowpea or common bean that belong to the same family.

In the fight against poverty and hunger amid the threat of climate change, highly nutritious, drought-tolerant crops are the best bets for smallholder farmers in marginal environments to survive and improve their livelihoods.

Pigeonpea, grown on about 5 million hectares in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and South-Central America, is a very important food legume for millions of the poor in the semi-arid regions of the world. Known as the "poor people's meat" because of its high protein content, it provides a well-balanced diet when accompanied with cereals.

"The mapping of the pigeonpea genome is a breakthrough that could not have come at a better time. Now that the world is faced with hunger and famine particularly in the Horn of Africa brought about by the worst drought of the decades, science-based, sustainable agricultural development solutions are vital in extricating vulnerable dryland communities out of poverty and hunger for good," says ICRISAT Director General William D. Dar.

"Modern crop improvement technologies for smallholder farmer crops such as pigeonpea will be crucial to speed up the development of improved varieties that can provide high yields and improved livelihoods, and at the same time meet the challenges of marginal environments and the threat of climate change and scarce natural resources," adds Dar.

Rajeev Varshney, the lead scientist and coordinator for the pigeonpea genome sequencing project explains how this breakthrough will unlock pigeonpea's potential.

"Having the pigeonpea genome sequence as a reference will significantly speed up and reduce the cost of screening the 'good genes' within the stored pigeonpea seed collections in genebanks like that of ICRISAT. This also means dramatically reducing the cost of developing new improved varieties for farmers," says Varshney.

"At the moment, in general, it can take 6-10 years to breed a new variety. With the use of this genome sequence data, in the future, we could be breeding a new variety in just about 3 years." he adds.

"The pigeonpea collaboration with ICRISAT is a milestone in the partnership between India and China, showcasing the excellent working dynamics and understanding among Indian and Chinese genomics scientists. I hope more partnerships like this will be established in the future, and I believe this will surely bring a significant difference to the whole world," says Professor Huanming Yang, Chairman of BGI-Shenzhen, the world's largest genomics institute and a key partner of this project.

India is home as well as the largest producer of pigeonpea, but crop productivity in the country as well as in sub-Saharan Africa is only less than 1 ton per hectare. An improved understanding of the pigeonpea genome will have a major impact on improved crop productivity, tackling pests and disease constraints in production, and improved resistance to harsh environments and the future variable climate.

Pigeonpea is the first "orphan crop", the first "non-industrial crop" and the second food legume (after soybean) with a completed genome sequence.

It is also the first time that a Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) supported Center like ICRISAT or any institute located in India has led the genome sequencing of a food crop.

The sequencing was accomplished by a global research partnership, the International Initiative for Pigeonpea Genomics (IIPG), led by ICRISAT with partners such as BGI – Shenzhen (China), US research laboratories like University of Georgia, University of California-Davis, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and National Centre for Genome Resources, and support from the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme based in Mexico.

For more information, please visit our website: www.icrisat.org or contact r.k.varshney@cgiar.org

Jia Liu | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.genomics.cn
http://www.icrisat.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Molecular milk mayonnaise: How mouthfeel and microscopic properties are related in mayonnaise
11.12.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung

nachricht Predicting a protein's behavior from its appearance
11.12.2019 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly charged ion paves the way towards new physics

In a joint experimental and theoretical work performed at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, an international team of physicists detected for the first time an orbital crossing in the highly charged ion Pr⁹⁺. Optical spectra were recorded employing an electron beam ion trap and analysed with the aid of atomic structure calculations. A proposed nHz-wide transition has been identified and its energy was determined with high precision. Theory predicts a very high sensitivity to new physics and extremely low susceptibility to external perturbations for this “clock line” making it a unique candidate for proposed precision studies.

Laser spectroscopy of neutral atoms and singly charged ions has reached astonishing precision by merit of a chain of technological advances during the past...

Im Focus: Ultrafast stimulated emission microscopy of single nanocrystals in Science

The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished.

Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to...

Im Focus: How to induce magnetism in graphene

Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...

Im Focus: Electronic map reveals 'rules of the road' in superconductor

Band structure map exposes iron selenide's enigmatic electronic signature

Using a clever technique that causes unruly crystals of iron selenide to snap into alignment, Rice University physicists have drawn a detailed map that reveals...

Im Focus: Developing a digital twin

University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The Future of Work

03.12.2019 | Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Self-driving microrobots

11.12.2019 | Materials Sciences

Innovation boost for “learning factory”: European research project “SemI40” generates path-breaking findings

11.12.2019 | Information Technology

Molecular milk mayonnaise: How mouthfeel and microscopic properties are related in mayonnaise

11.12.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>