Mungbean makes inroads at InterDrought-V
The world’s largest drought conference highlighted the global importance of the World Vegetable Center’s contributions to improving the ability of mungbean to cope with drought and heat stress.
Involving 942 delegates from 56 countries, the InterDrought-V conference hosted by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) was held from 21-25 February 2017 in Hyderabad, India. Every four years the conference brings together the world’s experts in fields as diverse as modelling, physiology, breeding, agronomy and genomics to share the latest insights into drought-proofing global food supplies.
Dr. Bindumadhava HanumanthaRao representing WorldVeg, presented a paper and poster on the Center’s work on heat tolerance in mungbean. “It was a truly amazing and overwhelming experience to witness and chat with peers working on drought research under a single roof for five intense learning days,” he said.
Drought tolerance depends on strong root systems. However, past cereal breeding efforts to produce low stature crops inadvertently also selected for smaller root systems. There is a significant opportunity to breed for larger, stronger root systems.
One of the major innovations highlighted was the importance of phenotyping root systems. Complex and sophisticated systems from Australia, Germany and Belgium were highlighted along with simpler systems from Ethiopia and Nigeria that could be effectively used in any field situation.
WorldVeg has led mungbean studies in India to demonstrate the effectiveness of selecting for large root systems to improve drought and heat stress tolerance. Our Indian national partners presented this work at the conference.
Bindu claimed that in the future, applying new root phenotyping techniques to the WorldVeg mini-core mungbean collection could be a very powerful tool. “Characterizing root morphology and architecture at different soil moisture regimes could help us develop effective descriptors for future breeding use,” he said.
Story and photos: Bindumadhava HanumanthaRao and Warwick Easdown