The Chickpea Pre-breeding Project

Phenotyping for climate resilience in chickpea’s wild progenitor species


The Project’s chickpea (Cicer arietinum) pre-breeding work is being coordinated by a diverse team of members including scientists at the University of California, Davis, and Florida International University in the United States; Dicle University, Harran University and the Aegean Agricultural Research Institute in Turkey; and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Morocco. The chickpea pre-breeding work is expected to take place between 2014 and 2017.

The primary goal of the chickpea pre-breeding work is to phenotype a representative set of collections of the two wild progenitor species of cultivated chickpea, Cicer reticulatum and Cicer echinospermum, with the objective of evaluating the wild chickpea germplasm for drought tolerance. The phenotyping efforts will involve 36 genotypes from 9 genetically defined populations, and the analysis will work to discover transpiration-related phenotypes that help to conserve soil moisture (and thus are likely to confer drought tolerance).

This project is expected to identify genes contributing to abiotic stress tolerance and help facilitate their introgression into cultivated chickpea lines over the long-term, for example through a related USAID project to develop and deploy climate resilient crop varieties, particularly in Ethiopia.

“My dream is to use science to change the world,” says Susan Moenga, in her recent blog. Susan works at the Chickpea Innovation Lab, at UC Davis, one of the 44 partners in our pre-breeding efforts. “The work I do as part of the Crop Wild Relatives project is focused on drought, the single biggest challenge in chickpea production.” Read the full blog here.


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