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Improving biotic and abiotic stress tolerance of cultivated Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum L.) through Introgression of alleles from wild species

Sharma, S., Sharma, R., Singh, I., Jayalekha, A.K., Yadav, Y., Vadez, V., Gupta, S.K., Kholova, J., Singh Deora, V., Yadav, D., Gangashetty, P. and Varshney, R.K.ORCID: 0000-0002-4562-9131 (2019) Improving biotic and abiotic stress tolerance of cultivated Pearl Millet (Pennisetum glaucum L.) through Introgression of alleles from wild species. In: 2019 ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting: Embracing the Digital Environment, 10 - 13 Vov. 2019, San Antonio, TX.


Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum L.) is the sixth most important cereal crop globally, predominantly grown for food and forage in arid and semi-arid tropical regions. Under climate change, pearl millet will face more adverse climatic conditions, particularly due to drought and heat stress and newly emerging disease, blast. Crop wild relatives (CWR) are the reservoir of valuable genes for tolerance/resistance to various abiotic/biotic stresses. Primary genepool species Pennisetum glaucum subsp. violaceum evolved in hot and dry conditions of Sahel region in Africa, grows in even more arid regions than the cultigen, and thus possess higher levels of drought and heat tolerance. Four pre-breeding populations were developed using wild Pennisetum violaceum accessions and cultivated pearl millet genotypes following advanced backcross approach. These populations were evaluated for flowering-stage heat stress during 2018 summer season across three locations, Agra in Uttar Pradesh, and SK Nagar and Tharad in Gujarat in India. These populations were also evaluated for terminal drought during 2018 rainy season at two locations, Hisar and Bawal. Promising ILs having improved heat and drought tolerance were identified. These populations were also evaluated under LeasyScan for the canopy-related parameters, as well as at LysiField facility for the traits related to water-use and water- use efficiency under well-watered and water-stress conditions. Further, screening of promising drought and/or heat tolerant ILs for five diverse pathotypes, Pg 45, Pg 138, Pg 186, Pg 204 and Pg 232 of blast resulted in the identification of resistant ILs. Preliminary screening of three populations for Striga hermonthica in Niger resulted in the identification of several ILs having improved Striga resistance. Re-screening of the material will be done during 2019 rainy season to confirm the results. Utilization of these promising ILs in breeding programs will assist in developing new varieties/hybrids with improved tolerance to important biotic/abiotic stresses.

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