Exploitation of wild annual Cicer species for widening the gene pool of chickpea cultivars
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Introgression of unadapted genes from the wild Cicer species could contribute to the widening of genetic base of important traits such as yield, yield attributes and resistance to major biotic and abiotic stresses. An attempt was made successfully to intercross two wild annual Cicer species with three cultivated chickpea cultivars. Four interspecific crosscombinations were made, and their true hybridity was ascertained through morphological and molecular markers. These cross-combinations were also studied for some important quantitative traits under real field conditions. The range, mean and coefficient of variation of agromorphological traits were assessed in the parental lines, their F1 and F2 generations to determine the extent of variability generated in cultivated chickpea varieties. A high level of heterosis was recorded for number of pods/plant and seed yield/plant in F1 generation. Three cross-combinations of ‘Pusa 1103’ 9 ILWC 46, ‘Pusa 256’ 9 ILWC 46 and ‘Pusa 256’ 9 ILWC 239 exhibited substantially higher variability for important yield-related traits. The present research findings indicate that these wild annual Cicer species can be easily exploited to broaden the genetic base of cultivated gene pool for improving seed yield as well as adaptation.