Regeneration guidelines for cultivated and wild chickpea

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The information on this page was extracted from:
Street K., Rukhkyan N. and Ismail A. 2008. Regeneration guidelines: chickpea. In: Dulloo M.E., Thormann I., Jorge M.A. and Hanson J., editors. Crop specific regeneration guidelines [CD-ROM]. CGIAR System-wide Genetic Resource Programme, Rome, Italy. 10 pp.

Before reading the regeneration details for this crop, read the general introduction that gives general guidelines to follow by clicking here.


Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) is a cool-season food legume grown mainly by small farmers in many parts of the world. It is an important source of protein in the diets of the poor and is particularly important in vegetarian diets. It is also being used increasingly as a substitute for animal protein. Chickpea is an annual plant ranging from 30 to 70 cm in height, but tall types measuring more than 1 m are cultivated in some parts of the Russian Federation.

Chickpea plant (photo: ICARDA)

The plant has a deep root system and is considered well adapted to dry areas. Pods range in length from 8 to 41 mm and in width from 6 to 15 mm. Each pod usually contains two seeds. The 100 seed weight ranges from 7.5 to 68 g. Based on seed size and shape, two main kinds of chickpea are recognized: Desi types, which have small, dark-brown seeds and a rough coat, and Kabuli types, which have creamy-white seeds that are larger, with a smoother coat.

Cultivated chickpea belongs to the Fabaceae family. It is mostly self-pollinating but cross-pollination by insects sometimes occurs (Purseglove 1968). The genus Cicer comprises nine annual species, which are usually separated into three or four groups on the basis of genetic distance from C. arietinum . The primary gene pool of C. arietinum includes C. echinospermum P. H. Davis and C. reticulatum Ladiz., the putative wild progenitor (Ladizinsky and Adler 1976).
Some authors also group a perennial wild Cicer species, C. anatolicum Alef., with the primary gene pool species (Choumane and Baum 2000). The next closest group consists of C. bijugum Rech. f., C. judaicum Boiss. and C. pinnatifidum Jaub. & Spach (Tayyar and Waines 1996). The most distantly related annual wild Cicer species are C. yamashitae Kitam., C. chorassanicum (Bunge) Popov and C. cuneatum Hochst. ex A. Rich.

Cultivated chickpea (Cicer arietinum)

Choice of environment and planting season

Climatic conditions

Chickpea is a cool-season food legume that can be grown in a range of climates, from the semi-arid tropics to temperate environments. The environment most similar to that of the collection site is generally considered optimum.

Planting season

Preparation for regeneration

When to regenerate

Seed preparations for planting

Field selection and preparation

Method of regeneration

Planting layout, density and distance

Sowing method


Crop management


Chickpea regeneration fields (photo above:ICARDA, photo below: ICRISAT)

Weed management



Common pests and diseases

Contact your plant health experts to identify the symptoms of the likely pests and diseases and the appropriate control measures. Some of the major pests and diseases of chickpea are:


Fungal diseases:

Viral diseases:

Nematodes, parasites:

Pest and disease control


Post-harvest management

Monitoring accession identity

Maintaining the correct identity of accessions

In processing seed for planting, during planting, in the field, during harvest and post harvest, take extreme care to ensure that the seeds for a given accession remain with the correct identity number. Packets of seeds, plots and harvested material must always be labelled with the appropriate ID number in such a way that there could be no chance of mixing up or losing the identity of the accession.

Maintaining population integrity

When conserving accessions of genetically diverse populations, it is important to maintain adequate quantities of seed to maximize the diversity in the sample (minimum 1,000 seeds).
When regenerating such accessions, it is equally important to plant an adequate number of seeds to conserve the original variation in the accession so that genetic drift does not occur within the population (see introductory chapter).

Comparisons with previous passport or morphological data

If the identity of the accession is in doubt, check it against its herbarium voucher specimen. Discard the accession if its identity is not the same as the original accession.

Wild chickpea

Planting and growing conditions

Regenerating wild chickpea in the greenhouse. Each pot is labelled with the accession’s unique identifying number (photo: ICARDA)

Plant accessions in pots under greenhouse conditions as follows (see photo):

Scarifying wild chickpea seeds by making a
small cut in the seed coat to improve water absorption and germination
(photo: ICARDA)

At the beginning of seed maturity each plant is covered with a light mesh bag, which is tied off at the base of the plant. Once the plant is fully mature the whole plant is harvested intact with the cloth bag (photo: ICARDA)

References and further reading

Choumane W, Baum M. 2000. The use of RAPD markers for characterization of annual species of the genus Cicer. Annals of Agricultural Science (Cairo) 2:809–820.

Coyne CJ, Sharp-Vincent T, Cashman MJ, Watt CA, Chen W, Muehlbauer FJ, Mallikarjuna N. 2005. A method for germinating perennial Cicer species. SAT ejournal Vol 1, Issue 1. Available from: Date accessed: 29 August 2008.

Ladinsky G, Adler A. 1976. The origin of chickpea Cicer arietinum L. Euphytica 25(1):211–217.

Purseglove JW. 1968. Cicer arietinum L. In: Tropical Crops. Dicotyledons. Longman Group Limited, London. pp. 246–250.

Tayyar R, Federici CV, Waines GJ. 1996. Natural outcrossing in chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.). Crop Science 36:203–205.

Wellving AHA. 1984. Grain legumes. Seed Production Handbook of Zambia. Department of Agriculture. Lusaka. SIDA. pp. 226–254.


These guidelines have been peer reviewed by S.S. Yadav, formerly of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, India; and N.K . Rao, International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.