Recent developments in transgenics for abiotic stress in legumes of the semi-arid tropics uri icon


  • The semi-arid tropics (SAT) are characterized by unpredictable weather, limited and erratic rainfall and nutrient poor soils and sufferfrom a host of agricultural constraints. Several biotic and abiotic stresses affect crop productivity. Mandated crops of ICRISAT thatinclude groundnut, pigeonpea, chickpea, sorghum, and pearl millet are the main staple foods for nearly one billion people in the SAT.Judicious application of biotechnological tools holds great potential in alleviating some of the major constraints to productivity of thesecrops. Gains in crop productivity through research advances in genetic enhancement will help to achieve sustainable food security,poverty alleviation, and environmental protection in the SAT. ICRISAT has a commitment to transfer the benefits of plant biotechnologyto the developing world, as genes relevant to their crops and environment become available. Genetic transformation provides acomplimentary means for the genetic betterment of the genome of these crops. Therefore, the research in transgenic crops offers a newmeans to achieve ICRISAT's mission, i.e., applying science to improve agriculture in areas of the world where sub-optimal rainfall andbiotic stresses are the major constraints for crop productivity. In this pursuit, efficient protocols for the genetic transformation of theimportant legumes of the SAT including groundnut, pigeonpea and chickpea have recently been developed at ICRISAT. More recently,in collaboration with our partners, we have initiated work on the development of transgenic plants for major abiotic stresses that includedrought, salinity and low temperatures. Several gene transfer approaches have been shown to improve the stress tolerance of crop plants.The transferred genes include those encoding for enzymes required for the biosynthesis of various osmoprotectants, or those encodingenzymes for modifying membrane lipids, LEA proteins, detoxification enzyme, and stress-inducible transcription factors have beendemonstrated to have great potential. This paper reviews the current status of transformation technology for the genetic improvement oflegumes of the SAT and it's possible application for developing transgenic plants with enhanced tolerance/resistance to abiotic stresses

publication date

  • 2002