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Indian scientists decode piegonpea (Arhar) genome

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 23:32

New Delhi: Farm scientists have decoded genome of piegonpea (arhar) -- the second most important pulse in the country -- a breakthrough which would help in developing new varieties and enhancing productivity of the pulse crop.
A group of 31 scientists from the Indian Council of Agriculture Research, state agricultural universities and Banaras Hindu University (BHU), led by Nagendra Kumar Singh from ICAR`s National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology at New Delhi, decoded the genome of `Arhar`.

This is the first plant genome sequenced entirely through a network of Indian institutions and it will provide highly valuable resource for variety improvement of pigeonpea, an
ICAR statement said.

Availability of the Arhar genome sequence would accelerate development of new varieties and hybrids with enhanced productivity by making use of germplasm resources.

Average pulse crop productivity in India has remained low at about 650 kg per hectare for the last six decades leading to soaring `Dal` prices with increasing demands.

Lack of high yielding, disease and pest resistant varieties is a major factor for the stagnant pulse productivity.

Slow progress in breeding high yielding Arhar varieties is attributed to dearth of genetic information coupled with large crop duration and intractable pod borer problem and poor utilisation of wild germplasm resources.

The genome of popular Arhar variety `Asha` was assembled using long sequence reads of 454-FLX second generation sequencing technology resulting in 511 million base pairs of high quality genome sequence information.

The scientists have identified 47,004 protein coding genes in the Arhar genome, of which 1,213 genes are for disease resistance and 152 genes for tolerance to drought, heat and salinity that make it a hardy crop.

The genome sequence was used to develop a large number of `Arhar` DNA markers which were experimentally validated for high rate of variation among the pigeonpea varieties.

Pigeonpea or red gram (Arhar or Tur) is an important grain legume (Pulse) crop of India. About 85 per cent of the world pigeonpea is produced and consumed in India where it is a key crop for food and nutritional security of the people.

PTI

First Published: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 23:32

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