Newspaper: Indian Express
Date: 2nd November 2011
Edition: New Delhi
In a major achievement that may help boost country’s efforts at breaking new grounds in improving yield of pulses, a major source of protein in the Indian diet, a group of scientists from across different institutions in the country has managed to decode the genome of arhar that can be used for developing a new variety of this crop.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on Wednesday announced that a team of 31 agricultural scientists drawn from ICAR institutes, state agricultural universities and Banaras Hindu University led by Nagendra Singh of National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology has decoded the genome of arhar, the second most important pulse crop in the country.
“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 ICAR said.
The arhar genome project was initiated under the Indo-US Agricultural Knowledge Intitiative (AKI) that sought to generate genomic resources in pigeonpea including EST sequences, trait mapping populations, mutant lines, BAC libraries, information databases and finally the complete physical map of the genome. R K Varshney from ICRISAT Hyderabad supported by ICAR and Prof Dough Cook from the University of California, Davis USA, supported by a National Science Foundation grant were involved in the first phase of the Indo-US AKI project in generating EST resources and BAC-end sequences and SSR markers. However, both of them have not been associated with the Indian arhar genome sequencing network after the conclusion of the Indo-US AKI in 2009-10.