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Open AccessArticle

Functional Dissection of the Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) Stay-Green Phenotype Associated with Molecular Variation at an Ortholog of Mendel’s I Gene for Cotyledon Color: Implications for Crop Production and Carotenoid Biofortification

1
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Patancheru 502 324, India
2
Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Vermont, and Gund Institute for the Environment, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
3
School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
4
Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
5
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), P.O.Box 6299, Rue Hafiane Cherkaoui, 10112 Rabat, Morocco
6
Division of Genetics & Plant Breeding, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology (SKUAST), Sopore 193 201, India
7
Grain Legume Genetics and Physiology Research, USDA-ARS, and, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA
8
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(22), 5562; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20225562
Received: 18 October 2019 / Revised: 31 October 2019 / Accepted: 1 November 2019 / Published: 7 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Legume Genetics and Biology: From Mendel's Pea to Legume Genomics)
“Stay-green” crop phenotypes have been shown to impact drought tolerance and nutritional content of several crops. We aimed to genetically describe and functionally dissect the particular stay-green phenomenon found in chickpeas with a green cotyledon color of mature dry seed and investigate its potential use for improvement of chickpea environmental adaptations and nutritional value. We examined 40 stay-green accessions and a set of 29 BC2F4-5 stay-green introgression lines using a stay-green donor parent ICC 16340 and two Indian elite cultivars (KAK2, JGK1) as recurrent parents. Genetic studies of segregating populations indicated that the green cotyledon trait is controlled by a single recessive gene that is invariantly associated with the delayed degreening (extended chlorophyll retention). We found that the chickpea ortholog of Mendel’s I locus of garden pea, encoding a SGR protein as very likely to underlie the persistently green cotyledon color phenotype of chickpea. Further sequence characterization of this chickpea ortholog CaStGR1 (CaStGR1, for carietinum stay-green gene 1) revealed the presence of five different molecular variants (alleles), each of which is likely a loss-of-function of the chickpea protein (CaStGR1) involved in chlorophyll catabolism. We tested the wild type and green cotyledon lines for components of adaptations to dry environments and traits linked to agronomic performance in different experimental systems and different levels of water availability. We found that the plant processes linked to disrupted CaStGR1 gene did not functionality affect transpiration efficiency or water usage. Photosynthetic pigments in grains, including provitaminogenic carotenoids important for human nutrition, were 2–3-fold higher in the stay-green type. Agronomic performance did not appear to be correlated with the presence/absence of the stay-green allele. We conclude that allelic variation in chickpea CaStGR1 does not compromise traits linked to environmental adaptation and agronomic performance, and is a promising genetic technology for biofortification of provitaminogenic carotenoids in chickpea. View Full-Text
Keywords: Mendel’s I gene; cosmetic stay-green; biofortification; green cotyledon; carotenoids; pro-vitamin A; chickpea; Cicer arietinum Mendel’s I gene; cosmetic stay-green; biofortification; green cotyledon; carotenoids; pro-vitamin A; chickpea; Cicer arietinum
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Sivasakthi, K.; Marques, E.; Kalungwana, N.; Carrasquilla-Garcia, N.; Chang, P.L.; Bergmann, E.M.; Bueno, E.; Cordeiro, M.; Sani, S.G.A.; Udupa, S.M.; Rather, I.A.; Rouf Mir, R.; Vadez, V.; Vandemark, G.J.; Gaur, P.M.; Cook, D.R.; Boesch, C.; von Wettberg, E.J.; Kholova, J.; Penmetsa, R.V. Functional Dissection of the Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) Stay-Green Phenotype Associated with Molecular Variation at an Ortholog of Mendel’s I Gene for Cotyledon Color: Implications for Crop Production and Carotenoid Biofortification. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 5562.

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