Horsegram genome sequence cracked

CSK Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University has been able to unravel horsegram genome sequence paving the way for developing genomic tools which can aid genomics assisted breeding in this potential crop.

While announcing the release of draft genome sequence of horsegram (locally known as Kulthi) variety HPK4 (baizu), Ashok Kumar Sarial, Vice-Chancellor, said that this was the first report of its kind in his university where a team of scientists has been able to complete the whole genome sequencing of any crop plant species.

He said that the program was funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Government of Japan for two years.

Dr Rakesh Kumar Chahota and Dr TR Sharma, Professors in the Department of Agricultural Biotechnology and Dr Sachiko Isobe, Head, Laboratory of Plant Genomics, Kazusa DNA Research Institute, Chiba, Japan worked as a team for accomplishing the task.

The Vice-Chancellor said that unraveling of horse gram genome sequence shall pave the way for developing genomic tools which can aid genomics-assisted breeding in this underutilized potential pulse crop and identify key genes responsible for economic traits. The Vice Chancellor asked the scientists to take this work further through translational research using the information emanating from this study.

Dr RS Jamwal, Director of Research and Dr HK Chaudhary highlighted the importance of this research work and said that horsegram was an indigenous legume of North-Western Himalayan region. It is highly suitable for rainfed and marginal agriculture and has a potential to cover the risk of dry land agriculture. Due to its survival capability under drought like conditions, it has been designated as the ‘Crop of Future’.

Dr Rakesh Chahota highlighted the importance of this study for the improvement and development of horsegram as a commercial crop. Dr. Sachiko Isobe, Principal Investigator from Japan, gave the detailed account of genome sequencing of this legume crop and briefed the audience about the identification of 36, 000 genes in this crop species which can be precisely utilized in future breeding programmes.

‘Crop of Future’

Horsegram, locally known as Kulthi, is an indigenous legume of North-Western Himalayan region. The grain is used as a human food and also as a concentrated feed for cattle. Due to its survival capability under drought like conditions, US Science Congress designated this crop as the ‘Crop of future’. The protein content in seeds of cultivated horsegram is reported to be 16.9–30.4 per cent. Horsegram seed is rich source of phosphorus, iron and vitamins such as carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. It is known to contain many medicinal and therapeutic benefits. It is also suggested as an ayurvedic medicine, used to treat edema, piles and renal stones.

-Written by Lalit Mohan in The Tribune.  See original article link here.