Chickpea is one of the most important grain legume crops in the world. Large collections of genetic resources are maintained in the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) genebanks. Association mapping using neutral markers has been suggested as a means to identify useful alleles in the vast reservoirs of genetic diversity existing in the germplasm collections that could be associated with the phenotypes among the population individuals. ICRISAT in collaboration with ICARDA developed a global composite collection of 3000 accessions that will be profiled using 50 polymorphic simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. The data generated through this collaborative effort will be used to define the genetic structure of the global composite collection and to select a reference sample of 300 accessions representing the maximum diversity for the isolation of allelic variants of candidate gene associated with beneficial traits. It is then expected that molecular biologists and plant breeders will have opportunities to use diverse lines in functional and comparative genomics, in mapping and cloning gene(s), and in applied plant breeding to diversify the genetic base of the breeding populations which should lead to the development of broad-based elite breeding lines/cultivars with superior yield and enhanced adaptation to diverse environments.
Plant Genetic Resources (2006) 4 (1) 13-19 [doi: 10.1079/PGR2005101]