Management of drought in ICRISAT cereal and legume mandate crops improvement uri icon


  • This chapter reviews the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)'s research achievements in the domain of crop drought tolerance and presents future perspectives in the genetic enhancement of crop water use and drought adaptation in the semiarid tropics (Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh, India). Exploration of crop genetic variability and genotype-environment interactions has contributed significantly to developing suitable screening methods for specific drought-tolerant traits. Genetic sources of drought tolerance were also identified at ICRISAT for all mandate crops (viz., pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), chickpea (Cicer arietinum), groundnut and pigeon pea), and some of the associated traits have been well characterized. A large spectrum of genotype duration is now available, from long to short and extra-short duration, and matching genotype duration with likely period of soil water availability is the first strategy used against terminal-drought stress. Identification and genetic mapping of quantitative trait loci for specific drought-tolerant traits using molecular markers are currently receiving greater research focus. This approach provides a powerful tool for dissecting the genetic basis of drought tolerance. If validated with accurate phenotyping and properly integrated in marker-assisted breeding programmes, this approach will accelerate the development of drought-tolerant genotypes. Overall, the progress made at ICRISAT during the last three decades proves that it is realistic to develop varieties that have increased yield under drought-prone conditions. Further multidisciplinary research integrating plant breeding, simulation modelling, physiology and molecular genetics will realize the potential of these approaches and increase the efficiency of crop improvement in drought-prone environments

publication date

  • 2003