Press Releases

December 1, 2014
Ottawa, ON

Fighting malnutrition with a ‘stronger’ chickpea

New study published in Genome shows potential for biofortification of one of the world’s most important pulse crops

Micronutrient malnutrition affects more than 2 billion people. Researchers working at the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan are seeking long term solutions to help to alleviate the increasing micronutrient malnutrition problem by enriching food grains with essential micronutrients through breeding and appropriate management practices, collectively known as biofortification. 

Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is considered an excellent whole food as source of dietary proteins, carbohydrates, micronutrients and vitamins. It is the world’s second most important pulse crop after common bean, and historically is an important daily staple in the diet of millions of people, especially in developing countries. Chickpea is the subject of a new study published today in the journal Genome.

Dr. Bunyamin Tar'an, one of the authors of the study explains, “To increase micronutrient contents in grains, a clear understanding of mechanisms of micronutrient mobilization, absorption, translocation and retranslocation in the seed-soil-plant-seed- human/animal chain is essential. This research is a step further gearing toward this understanding.”

The researchers employed a genome-wide association analysis approach using single nucleotide variations (SNPs) and a set of diverse chickpea genotypes consisting of landraces, elite cultivars, and advanced breeding lines from the Crop Development Centre at the University of Saskatchewan to study the genic factors associated with iron and zinc concentration in chickpea seeds.

“Our study indicated that there is substantial variability present in chickpea germplasm for seed iron and zinc concentration. These findings encourage the effective use of genetic resources and open the possibility for development of a molecular breeding strategy for increasing iron and zinc levels in chickpea cultivars.”  

Dr. Tar’an and his colleagues plan to further examine the genes involved in iron and zinc absorption, translocation and deposition in chickpea seeds.  In the meantime the germplasm lines that consistently showed high iron and zinc concentrations are already being used in breeding program to develop varieties with enhanced micronutrient content.

The article “Diversity and Association Mapping of Iron and Zinc Concentration in Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.)” was published today in the journal Genome

Please cite the journal Genome  as the source of this article and include hyperlink to paper (  

Reference: Diapari, M; Sindhu, A; Bett, K; Deokar, A; Warkentin, T; Taran, B, Diversity and Association Mapping of Iron and Zinc Concentration in Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) . Genome, 2014, DOI: 10.1139/gen-2014-0108 

Media Contacts:
Jenny Ryan (Communications Manager, Canadian Science Publishing)  
Bunyamin Tar'an (Author)

About the Journal
Genome was established in 1959. It publishes original research articles, reviews, mini-reviews, and commentaries in the areas of general genetics, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, evolutionary genetics, population genetics, developmental genetics, plant genetics, microbial genetics, mammalian genetics, genomics, and other related areas. Genome is one of the NRC Research Press journals published by Canadian Science Publishing. 

Canadian Science Publishing publishes the NRC Research Press suite of journals but is not affiliated with the National Research Council of Canada.  Papers published by Canadian Science Publishing are peer-reviewed by experts in their field.  The views of the authors in no way reflect the opinions of Canadian Science Publishing. Requests for commentary about the contents of any study should be directed to the authors.