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Pre-breeding efforts for better traits in pigeonpea
Sunday, 2020/01/12 | 06:21:08

Annual Review Meeting of GCDT-ICRISAT collaborative research project and participation in Pigeonpea Field Day


Figure: Dr Shivali Sharma, Theme Leader, Pre-breeding, ICRISAT, explains how pre-breeding forms a critical link between genebanks and crop improvement programs in pigeonpea pre-breeding field during the Pigeonpea Field Day. Photo: S Punna, ICRISAT.


With a view to using new and diverse sources of genetic variations in pigeonpea, the Pre-breeding Theme at ICRISAT is leading the drive to use wild Cajanus species to create new variability for ready use in its pigeonpea breeding program.


The narrow genetic base of cultivated pigeonpea is one of the major factors hindering its genetic improvement. Despite large breeding efforts, pigeonpea productivity is still not more than 0.8-0.9 t/ha across varied agro-ecologies in the country. There is a growing need to meet the demand for nutritious food, for instance, legumes such as pigeonpea.


To mitigate this challenge, under Phase I of the project, ‘Identification of superior alleles and lines from wild Cajanus species for pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) improvement’, promising introgression lines (ILs) were identified. Under the ongoing Phase II’ Utilization of introgression lines derived from wild Cajanus species for pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) improvement’, these high-yielding, salinity-tolerant and disease-resistant ILs are being evaluated in multiple agro-ecologies and socio-economic settings.


In India, a few ILs such as ICPL 15010, ICPL 15072, ICPL 15062 and ICPIL 17116 have been nominated by NARS for multi-location evaluation in the Initial Varietal Trials (IVT) of All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Pigeonpea during 2019-20 crop season. As per the feedback from NARS, it is interesting to know that a few promising ILs such as ICPL 15028, ICPL 15072 and ICPIL 17124 are also being used as donors in national crossing programs in India and Myanmar. As pigeonpea is a highly photo- and thermo-sensitive crop, efforts are also being made to develop photo-and thermo-insensitive pigeonpea pre-breeding lines using wild Cajanus species.


“We’d like to bring back the traits that have been lost to us as part of domestication of pigeonpea,” said Dr Shivali Sharma, Principal Investigator and Theme Leader, Pre-breeding, ICRISAT.


Dr NP Singh, Director, Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Kanpur; Dr IP Singh, Project Coordinator- AICRP on pigeonpea, along with about 40 pigeonpea researchers from public and private sectors in India, NARS partners from Myanmar and Kenya, and 19 farmers from major pigeonpea-growing regions visited pigeonpea pre-breeding field trials at ICRISAT, Hyderabad during this field day. Participants showed keen interest in the pre-breeding materials and selected promising ILs for use in breeding programs. Farmers provided their feedback about this material and identified the best ILs having farmer-preferred traits.


The annual project review meeting of Phase II of the project was held on 18 December 2019 at ICRISAT, Hyderabad.


For more on ICRISAT’s work on pigeonpea, click here.

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