Genetic engineering approaches for drought tolerance in grain legumes: progress and prospects uri icon


  • Inadequate water resources and the ensuing climate changeover the recent years are posing major challenges for food production.Drought in various forms is responsible for major lossesto global crop production, affecting millions of resource-poorfarmers in the semi-arid tropics. While developing drought-tolerantcultivars could alleviate such economical strains, geneticimprovement of grain legumes is difficult to achieve throughconventional means due to their highly self-pollinating characteristicsand conserved genomes with very little variability.To generate additional genetic diversity, we attempted to enhancedrought tolerance in chickpea and peanut through geneticengineering approaches. Independent transgenic eventswith high transpiration efficiencies (TE) and desirable root andshoot traits were selected for further evaluation under a seriesof environments under glasshouse and confined field trialsto comprehensively study the component traits of drought,and understand the stress adaptive mechanisms. Relationshipbetween TE and its surrogate traits were explored, besidesstudying the role of biochemical changes in the anti-oxidativemachinery under water-limiting conditions. Evaluationswere based on water capture, effective use of captured waterfor producing biomass via photosynthesis, and convertingassimilates into harvestable yield. Accordingly, critical assessmentof drought tolerance and yield under contained field conditionsproved the effectiveness of several events that showedsubstantial yield improvement under drought stress, withoutany accompanying yield penalty under irrigation. Detailsof various strategies to develop drought tolerant transgencplants, and the results and scope of our own studies will bediscussed

publication date

  • 2017