Expanding the Range of Genetic Diversity in Cultivated Chickpea through Introgression with Wild Chickpea

Sunday, May 12, 2013

FIU assistant professor, and FTBG affiliate, Dr. Eric von Wettberg traveled to southeastern Turkey from May 2-11 to identify populations of wild relatives of chickpea. With the support from the Australian Grains Research and Development Corporation, von Wettberg and colleagues Dr. Jens Berger from Western Australia and Doug Cook and Varma Penmetsa from the University of California at Davis visited colleagues Abdullah Kahraman of Harran University, Canan Can of Gaziantep University, and Dean Bekir Bukun of Dichle University in southeastern Turkey. Although previously described as rare, several populations of three species related to chickpea were found within pasture areas regularly visited by local villagers. These species likely harbor adaptations that could improve the resilience of chickpea to climate change. However, although currently abundant within some habitats, they are threatened by rising temperatures and landscape changes such as intensified irrigation and commodity agriculture. von Wettberg and colleagues are working to both systematically collect these wild species to serve as a population genetic resource for breeding in the developing world, but also to build relationships that will protect these species in their native habitat.