National University of Ireland, Galway scientists have helped decode the genome of the “pigeon pea”, a crop also known as the “poor people’s meat”.

The high protein crop is used in Asia, Africa and South America has a high protein content and helps provide a well-balanced diet in combination with cereals.  This is the second time a food legume’s complete genome sequence has been mapped, after soybean.

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International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), an Indian-based agricultural research institute, led a global partnership and spent years analyzing the genome. NUI Galway Botany and Plant scientist, Mark T.A. Donoghue, Reetu Tuteja and Charles Spillane helped in decoding this plant's genetic code and have seen their work published in the highest-ranked journal in the area, “Nature Biotechnology”.

Director general of ICRISAT William D Dar said "The mapping of the pigeon pea genome is a breakthrough that could not have come at a better time. Now that the world is faced with hunger and famine, particularly in the Horn of Africa brought about by the worst drought of the decades, science-based, sustainable agricultural development solutions are vital in extricating vulnerable dryland communities out of poverty and hunger for good."