High temperature stress is one of the important abiotic stresses hindering in achieving potential yield in crop plants, particularly cool-season grain legumes. Chickpea is one of the important cool-season grain legume crops. It experiences high temperature stress at different growth stages. Prevalence of heat stress during the reproductive stage reduces the crop yield drastically. Although genetic resource is available for heat stress tolerance in chickpea, studies on inheritance and its utilization in breeding program remain very limited. Research efforts through conventional breeding have been targeted to identify the traits for indirect selection. Advancement of molecular breeding approaches has led to the identification of markers linked to traits contributing to heat stress tolerance. Despite the availability of large scale genomic resources, most of the studies were limited to identify the molecular markers linked to quantitative trait loci (QTL). The functional genomics provides better insight into the molecular pathways and functions of the genes involved in heat stress tolerance. Limited information is available on the genes and pathways of gene activation controlling effective stress resistance in chickpea. Genome-wide analysis of Hsfs gene family resulted in the identification of Hsf genes which belong to four major groups with several paralogous and orthologous genes, and are unevenly distributed across all of the eight chromosomes. The next-generation sequencing and genome-editing techniques will greatly contribute in designing abiotic stress tolerant crop plants including chickpea.
Keywords: Chickpea, Genetic variability, Genomics, Heat stress.