Geneticist breeds new hope for chickpeas

Oct 14, 2013 by Evelyn Perez
Chickpea plant.

Eric von Wettberg, professor in the FIU Department of Biological Sciences, has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the effects of domestication on wild chickpea genes.

According to von Wettberg, wild chickpeas were first domesticated 8,000 years ago in the Middle East. Without machinery and labor from animals, early selected crops that were easy to store and plant, including chickpeas, wheat, barley, flax, lentils and sweet peas. Using a crop rotation system, where dissimilar crops are grown in the same field during sequential seasons, the farmers created a form of chickpea that relies on human-applied fertilizers and less on bacteria, which allows it to self-fertilize. The consequence of this has been the reduction of the 's genetic diversity.

Ultimately, the goal of the research is to give farmers the information needed to breed more genetically diverse and sustainable chickpeas that will grow in the absence of fertilizers.

Chickpea is the world's second most cultivated food legume. A highly nutritious crop, it is used as human and animal feed and is one of the more inexpensive sources of protein. Most production and consumption takes place in developing nations in the Mediterranean, western and southern Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

"This research has significant implications for resource-poor farmers in places like Ethiopia and India," von Wettberg said. "Some of today's most commonly used fertilizers are very expensive and have environmental consequences."

According to von Wettberg, chickpeas that can thrive without would also help reduce the carbon footprint and damage done to the environment in industrialized countries, including the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Australia.

Explore further: Untangling DNA with a droplet of water, a pipet and a polymer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New chickpeas set to revive Australian pulse industry

Sep 13, 2012

Two new varieties of chickpea developed by researchers at The University of Western Australia are expected to take the Indian market by storm and turn the tide for an industry that has struggled to recover ...

Fungus-on-Fungus Fight Could Benefit Chickpeas

Dec 08, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The fungus Ascochyta rabiei threatens chickpea crops the world over. But now this blight-causing pathogen could meet its match in Aureobasidium pullulans, a rival fungus that Agricultural ...

Fertilizers may not help poorest African farmers

Sep 24, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers have linked poverty in sub-Saharan Africa with poor soil health, but two new Cornell studies find that the recommended practice of applying more fertilizer may not help the poorest ...

Recommended for you

Cultivation of microalgae via an innovative technology

Feb 27, 2015

Preliminary laboratory scale studies have shown consistent biomass production and weekly a thick microalgal biofilm could be harvested. A new and innovative harvesting device has been developed for ALGADISK able to directly ...

Refined method to convert lignin to nylon precursor

Feb 27, 2015

A new study from the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) demonstrates the conversion of lignin-derived compounds to adipic acid, an important industrial dicarboxylic acid produced for its use as ...

Living in the genetic comfort zone

Feb 26, 2015

The information encoded in the DNA of an organism is not sufficient to determine the expression pattern of genes. This fact has been known even before the discovery of epigenetics, which refers to external ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.