Indian Society of Genetics & Plant Breeding

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From concept to field: evolution of hybrid pigeonpea technology in India

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The role of hybrid vigour in the enhancement of productivity
is well recognized. Its application, however, has been
restricted to a few crops and legume breeders could never
take its advantage due to various seed production issues.
Recently, plant breeders have succeeded in creating the
world’s first commercial hybrid in a food legume, popularly
known as red gram or pigeonpea [Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.].
This was possible due to success in breeding a stable
cytoplasmic nuclear male sterility (CMS) system and
exploitation of its partial natural out-crossing. This
development has provided golden opportunities to break
the decades-old yield plateau in this crop. Among the
hybrid combinations evaluated, ICPH 2671 and GTH 1 were
found most promising. In the on-farm trials ICPH 2671
recorded 46.5% superiority over the best available cultivar
Maruti; while GTH 1 was 33.9% superior to the control, and
it was released in Gujarat state in 2004; but for some reasons
associated with its stability of fertility restoration it failed
to reach the level of commercialization. The outstanding
performance of hybrid ICPH 2671 led to its release by both,
a private seed company as ‘Pushkal’ and by the state
Government of Madhya Pradesh as ‘RV ICPH 2671’ in 2010.
The journey of the evolution of hybrid pigeonpea
technology was fascinating and challenging. It took a long
time of over 39-years from its conceptualization to finally
reaching Indian farmers. The impact of this breakthrough
was visible when two more hybrids ICPH 2740 and ICPH
3762 were recently released in India. Since it is a path
breaking research among food legumes, an attempt has
been made here to archive the milestones of this historic
plant breeding event.

Keywords: Cajanus cajan, cytoplasmic nuclear male sterility, hybrid, out-crossing, pigeonpea

Info

Year: 2015
Volume: 75
Issue: 3
Article DOI: 10.5958/0975-6906.2015.00045.0
Print ISSN: 0019-5200
Online ISSN: 0975-6906

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