Chickpea Genomics

A collaborative project between Australia and India

  • Chickpea forms a critical component of the Australian and Indian farming system, offering offer a high value alternative to cereals, an important disease break, opportunities for grass weed control and respite from high nitrogen application.
  • Chickpea is the major pulse produced in Australia and India, but abiotic stresses such as salinity, drought and heat regularly limit production. Drought alone reduces yield significantly, compounded by high sensitivity to heat and salinity. This situation will become more severe under predicted climate change scenarios and hence specific breeding and selection for tolerance to drought, heat and salinity are urgently required in chickpea.Hand holding desi chickpeas
  • Chickpea is one of the world’s most important pulse crops, ranking third in world food legume production. Globally, chickpea production covers an area of 11.9 Mha producing 10.9 Mt (FAOSTAT, 2010). India is the world’s biggest producer with an annual production of around 7.48 Mt representing 68% of total world production. Existing production in India is insufficient to meet demand and every year India imports large quantities of chickpea.
  • In Australia, chickpea is also grown as a high value pulse, but serious production only began around 20 years ago. Chickpea has rapidly grown to be Australia’s most valuable pulse crop (602,000 tonnes in 2010, FAOSTAT). A significant quantity of this high value crop is exported to India and other countries for human consumption.
  • Chickpea offers significant benefits for human health. The seed is high in protein (20-30%) and dietary fibre, contains approximately 40% carbohydrates and only 3-6% oil. Furthermore, chickpea is a good source of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and manganese, and has been recognised as one of the nutritionally best composed legumes for human consumption. 

The project for an abiotic stress tolerant chickpea

  • In collaboration with partners in India (ICRISAT), ACPFG is leading a team focussed towards the development of efficient selection methods for tolerance to abiotic stress and the application of molecular tools to assist chickpea breeding.
  • The key objective of is to develop and build a collaborative chickpea genomics program comprising advanced pre-breeding tools for the discovery and validation of novel genes and traits leading to development of abiotic stress tolerant chickpea.
  • The project will utilise diverse chickpea germplasm including world core collections and elite breeding lines from Australia and India to produce outputs that may assist chickpea breeding efforts in both countries.

Chickpea seedlings in pots

For more information, our project website is located here


PhD opportunities

Please contact Tim Sutton to discuss opportunities for potential projects in any of the areas below. Also check our PhD projects on offer page for a current PhD opportunity in this area along with details and online application forms.

The Australian Team

Australian and Indian partners will contribute distinct but complimentary skills in multidisciplinary strengths in whole plant and crop physiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, plant genetics and breeding.

ACPFG Adelaide, lead organisation

Tim Sutton (project leader) – Genetic analysis of abiotic stress tolerance in chickpea
Peter Langridge – Genetic analysis of abiotic stress tolerance in chickpea

University of Queensland

Dave Edwards – Bioinformatic analysis of next generation chickpea data

University of Western Australia

Tim Colmer – Physiology of salinity tolerance in chickpea
Kadambot Siddique – Physiology of drought tolerance in chickpea


Victor Sadras – Physiology of heat tolerance in chickpea

University of Melbourne

Rebecca Ford – Validation of genomics tools in chickpea

RMIT University

Nitin Mantri – Profiling transcriptional responses of abiotic stress in chickpea

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