A new project to improve chickpea adaptation to environmental challenges was recently launched at ICRISAT – India. The primary focus is: salinity tolerance, ascochyta blight resistance and drought tolerance.
Chickpea production is hampered by several abiotic stresses such as drought, heat and salinity and biotic stress such as ascochyta blight. The effect of abiotic stress is projected to become more severe under the predicted climate change scenarios.
India is the world’s largest producer of chickpea. In 2013, the annual production was 8.83 million tons. However due to growing demand, each year, India imports large quantities of chickpea. In 2014 India imported 550,790 tons which rose to 865,000 tons during the period of January – September 2015. Australia is the world’s second largest producer of chickpea and majority of Australia’s production is exported to India.
“Area under chickpea cultivation has been increasing in Australia and the Australian pulse industry is keen to further enhance the production. However, ascochyta and salinity are major production constraints in Australia. Very recently due to possible change in the pathotype isolate the resistance against ascochyta blight has broken down and there is an urgent need to identify new sources of resistance. Similarly, salt tolerance is also an important trait for Australian chickpea community,” said Dr Tim Sutton, Principal Scientist, Crop Improvement, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).
“We are happy to continue our successful collaboration with Australian colleagues and committed to work for smallholder farmers by providing superior lines with enhanced yield under rainfed conditions, which happens to be the national priority of Government of India,” said Dr Rajeev Varshney, Research Program Director, Genetic Gains, ICRISAT – India.
The project titled ‘Improving Chickpea Adaptation to Environmental Challenges in Australia and India’ was launched on 9 February at ICRISAT-India. It is funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India under the Indo-Australian Biotechnology Fund (IABF) scheme for a period of three years.
The project is jointly developed by scientists from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) – Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), South Australian Research and Development Institute and University of Western Australia (UWA) and ICRISAT.
Dr Tim Colmer, Plant Physiologist, UWA; Dr Pooran Gaur, Principal Scientist, Chickpea Breeding, ICRISAT; and Dr Manish Roorkiwal, Scientist, Genomics and Molecular Breeding, ICRISAT provided feedback on the project and reiterated their commitment to work for chickpea improvement.
Expected outcomes of the project
- Improved chickpea varieties with tolerance to drought, salinity and resistance to Fusarium and Ascochyta Blight.
- New haplotypes for chickpea breeding programs from existing multi-parent advanced generation inter-cross (MAGIC) populations.
- New markers associated with salinity tolerance that can be deployed in chickpea breeding program.
- Facilitating Indian and Australian chickpea farmers and traders for enhanced chickpea production and trade.
For more information on ICRISAT’s work on chickpea, click here