Genomics-assisted breeding for boosting crop improvement in pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan)

Lekha Pazhamala, Rachit K Saxena, Vikas K Singh, C V Sameerkumar, Vinay Kumar, Pallavi Sinha, Kishan Patel, Jimmy Obala, Seleman R Kaoneka, P Tongoona, Hussein A Shimelis, N V P R Gangarao, Damaris Odeny, Abhishek Rathore, P S Dharmaraj, K N Yamini, Rajeev K Varshney
Frontiers in Plant Science 2015, 6: 50
Pigeonpea is an important pulse crop grown predominantly in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Although pigeonpea growing area has considerably increased, yield has remained stagnant for the last six decades mainly due to the exposure of the crop to various biotic and abiotic constraints. In addition, low level of genetic variability and limited genomic resources have been serious impediments to pigeonpea crop improvement through modern breeding approaches. In recent years, however, due to the availability of next generation sequencing and high-throughput genotyping technologies, the scenario has changed tremendously. The reduced sequencing costs resulting in the decoding of the pigeonpea genome has led to the development of various genomic resources including molecular markers, transcript sequences and comprehensive genetic maps. Mapping of some important traits including resistance to Fusarium wilt and sterility mosaic disease, fertility restoration, determinacy with other agronomically important traits have paved the way for applying genomics-assisted breeding (GAB) through marker assisted selection as well as genomic selection (GS). This would accelerate the development and improvement of both varieties and hybrids in pigeonpea. Particularly for hybrid breeding programme, mitochondrial genomes of cytoplasmic male sterile (CMS) lines, maintainers and hybrids have been sequenced to identify genes responsible for cytoplasmic male sterility. Furthermore, several diagnostic molecular markers have been developed to assess the purity of commercial hybrids. In summary, pigeonpea has become a genomic resources-rich crop and efforts have already been initiated to integrate these resources in pigeonpea breeding.

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