Genetic variability of drought-avoidance root traits in the mini-core germplasm collection of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.).
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Extensive and deep root systems have been recognized as one of the most important traits for improving chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) productivity under progressively receding soil moisture conditions. However, available information on the range of variation for root traits is still limited. Genetic variability for the root traits was investigated using a cylinder culture system during two consecutive growth seasons in the mini-core germplasm collection of ICRISAT plus several wild relatives of chickpea. The largest genetic variability was observed at 35 days after sowing for root length density (RLD) (heritability, h 2 = 0.51 and 0.54) across seasons, and followed by the ratio of plant dry weight to root length density with h 2 of 0.37 and 0.50 for first and second season, respectively. The root growth of chickpea wild relatives was relatively poor compared to C. arietinum, except in case of C. reticulatum. An outstanding genotype, ICC 8261, which had the largest RLD and one of the deepest root system, was identified in chickpea mini-core germplasm collection. The accession ICC 4958 which was previously characterized as a source for drought avoidance in chickpea was confirmed as one with the most prolific and deep root system, although many superior accessions were also identified. The chickpea landraces collected from the Mediterranean and the west Asian region showed a significantly larger RLD than those from the south Asian region. In addition, the landraces originating from central Asia (former Soviet Union), characterized by arid agro-climatic conditions, also showed relatively larger RLD. As these regions are under-represented in the chickpea collection, they might be interesting areas for further germplasm exploration to identify new landraces with large RLD. The information on the genetic variability of chickpea root traits provides valuable baseline knowledge for further progress on the selection and breeding for drought avoidance root traits in chickpea.
Keywordschickpea germplasm heritability mini-core collection root traits
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