The narrow genetic base of cultivars coupled with low utilization of genetic resources are the major factors limiting grain legume production and productivity globally. Exploitation of new and diverse sources of variation is needed for the genetic enhancement of grain legumes. Wild relatives with enhanced levels of resistance/tolerance to multiple stresses provide important sources of genetic diversity for crop improvement. However, their exploitation for cultivar improvement is limited by cross-incompatibility barriers and linkage drags. Pre-breeding provides a unique opportunity, through the introgression of desirable genes from wild germplasm into genetic backgrounds readily used by the breeders with minimum linkage drag, to overcome this. Pre-breeding activities using promising landraces, wild relatives, and popular cultivars have been initiated at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) to develop new gene pools in chickpea, pigeonpea, and groundnut with a high frequency of useful genes, wider adaptability, and a broad genetic base. The availability of molecular markers will greatly assist in reducing linkage drags and increasing the efficiency of introgression in pre-breeding programs. © 2013 Sharma, Upadhyaya, Varshney and Gowda.
Sharma, S., Upadhyaya, H. D., Varshney, R. K., & Gowda, C. L. L. (2013). Pre-breeding for diversification of primary gene pool and genetic enhancement of grain legumes. Frontiers in Plant Science, 4. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2013.00309