Food legumes, either summer or winters have been associated with marginal inputs and interest since their domestication. Pakistan enjoys four distinguish seasons a year that favour to produce winter as well as summer legumes. Winter legumes consists of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), lentils (Lens culinaris), peas (Pisum sativum), grass pea (Lathyrus sativus) and faba bean (Vicia faba), whereas summer legumes are mungbean (Vigna radiata), black gram (Vigna mungo), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) and moth bean (Vigna oconotifolium). Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is confined to high mountainous region of northern areas ranging the altitude 1000 to 2400 m. These legumes have been collected and preserved in the gene bank as active collection (short duration, 10 oC, 20 years), base collection (medium term, 5 oC, 50 years) and original collection (long term,?20 oC, more than 50 years). The number preserved in the gene bank is 2243 (chickpea), 805 (lentil), 645 (peas), 99 (lathyrus), 58 (faba bean), 712 (mungbean), 647 (black gram), 192 (cowpea), 66 (moth bean) and 102 (common bean). About 90% of summer legumes and 60% winter legumes have been characterized and evaluated. The germplasm of black gram (340 accessions), mungbean (260 accessions), lentil (350 accessions), chickpea (350 accessions), wild chickpea (40 accessions), peas (345 accessions), cowpea (173 accessions) and wild Vigna spp. (one accession) have been evaluated for total seed protein profiling. Except peas and wild chickpea, a low level of genetic diversity was observed for all the material evaluated. Forty accessions of wild chickpea were evaluated for total seed proteins that indicated high level of genetic diversity as compared with cultivated chickpea. This situation lead to use of DNA markers, therefore 40 accessions of black gram, 17 of lentil and 40 of pea were analyzed for RAPD that gave higher level of genetic diversity than SDS-PAGE. It was concluded that SDS-PAGE could confidently be used for identification of various species of legumes (Vigna radiata vs V. mungo; Lens vs Vicia), whereas this technique did not prove efficient for investigating intra-specific identification and it was assumed that SDS-PAGE may define a small portion of genetic diversity in legumes. Legume genetic resources are required to be characterized and evaluated along with protein and DNA markers for predicted utilization and better gene bank management. Comprehensive data will lead to establishment of core collections and enable researchers to eliminate duplications from the collections and to minimize labor and cost involved in crop improvement program. Low genetic diversity coupled with low stability is a characteristic for most of the legumes that could be minimized by developing a sound linkage between various stakeholder including CGIAR centers for legumes development program.
Author(s): A. GHAFOOR