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Enhancement of the use and impact of germplasm in crop improvement

  • H. D. Upadhyaya (a1), S. L. Dwivedi (a1), S. Sharma (a1), N. Lalitha (a1), S. Singh (a1), R. K. Varshney (a1) and C. L. L. Gowda (a1)...

Plant genetic resources are raw materials and their use in breeding is one of the most sustainable ways to conserve biodiversity. The ICRISAT has over 120,000 accessions of its five mandate crops and six small millets. The management and utilization of such large diversity are greatest challenges to germplasm curators and crop breeders. New sources of variations have been discovered using core and minicore collections developed at the ICRISAT. About 1.4 million seed samples have been distributed; some accessions with specific attributes have been requested more frequently. The advances in genomics have led researchers to dissect population structure and diversity and mine allelic variations associated with agronomically beneficial traits. Genome-wide association mapping in sorghum has revealed significant marker–trait associations for many agronomically beneficial traits. Wild relatives harbour genes for resistance to diseases and insect pests. Resistance to pod borer in chickpea and pigeonpea and resistance to rust and late leaf spot in groundnut have been successfully introgressed into a cultivated genetic background. Synthetics in groundnut are available to broaden the cultigen's gene pool. ICRISAT has notified the release of 266 varieties/cultivars, germplasm, and elite genetic stocks with unique traits, with some having a significant impact on breeding programs. Seventy-five germplasm lines have been directly released for cultivation in 39 countries.

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