AI helps design the perfect chickpea

12 Nov 2021

A massive international research effort has led to development of a genetic model for the ‘ultimate’ chickpea, with the potential to lift crop yields by up to 12 per cent.

woman's hands holding healthy chickpeasThe research consortium genetically mapped thousands of chickpea varieties, and the UQ team then used this information to identify the most valuable gene combinations using artificial intelligence (AI). 

Professor Ben Hayes led the UQ component of the project with Associate Professor Lee Hickey and Professor Kai Voss-Fels (University in Geisenheim) to develop a ‘haplotype’ genomic prediction crop breeding strategy, for enhanced performance for seed weight.

“Most crop species only have a few varieties sequenced, so it was a massive undertaking by the international team to analyse more than 3000 cultivated and wild varieties,” Professor Hayes said.

The landmark international study was led by Dr Rajeev Varshney from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in Hyderabad, India.

The study confirmed chickpea’s origin in the Fertile Crescent and provides a complete picture of genetic variation within chickpea. 

The research is published in Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-04066-1).