Establishing core collections for enhanced use of germplasm in crop improvement

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Plant genetic resources are the basic raw materials and their use in breeding is the most sustainable way to conserve
biodiversity. Low use of germplasm in crop improvement programs has resulted large gap between the number of
germplasm preserved in genebanks and the number of germplasm used in crop breeding across the globe. Breeders are
reluctant to use germplasm largely either due to lack of reliable information on economic traits besides linkage drag or
due to breakdown of co-adapted gene complexes, which may prolong cultivar development time. The reduced subsets,
representing diversity in the germplasm collection of a given species preserved in genebank, in the form of core or mini
core collections are the ideal genetic resources for discovering new sources of variations for use in crop improvement
programs. Two decades of research at ICRISAT has led to the establishment of core and mini core collections and their
subsequent evaluations has resulted in identification of new sources of variations, for example, resistance to abiotic and/
or biotic stresses in chickpea, groundnut, pigeonpea, pearl millet, sorghum, finger millet and foxtail millet. Likewise, a
number of nutritionally dense (high protein, Ca, Fe and Zn) germplasm have been identified in finger millet, foxtail millet,
groundnut, pearl millet, and sorghum. A few groundnut germplasm with improved oil quality, as determined by variation
in oleic and linoleic fatty acids, were also identified. Many of these germplasm were agronomically at par or even superior
over controls and showed specific and wide adaptation. The identified sources may be used in genomics and breeding to
broaden the cultigen’s genepool in these crops.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEkin Journal of Crop Breeding and Genetics
Issue number1:1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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