March 18, 2010


Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.) belongs to a genus of 40 species that is; located primarily in central and western Asia.

The majority of the Cicer species are perennial shrubs, but the group containing the cultivated forms are annual.

Most species are diploid with 2n=2x=16.

Three crossability groups have been identified among the species; the cultivated chickpea is in a group with Cicer reticulatum Davis and Cicer echinospermum Ladiz.

These two diploid species closely resemble the cultivated chickpea, as they are annual and morphologically very similar and share many biochemical and molecular markers.

Of these two wild species, only C. reticulatum is fully interfertile with the cultivated forms and morphologically, cytological and molecular studies have confirmed their close relationship.

Crosses between the cultivated species and other wild species have generally failed.

Chickpea cultivation was probably associated with the mergence of the grain crops in the Near East.

Interestingly, five closely related species coexist in that area, with similar growth habits and taste, but only C. arietinum was domesticated.

Carbonized seeds have been found at Cayonu, Turkey and Tell Abu Hureya, Syria. Both locations are 9000 – 10,000 years old, but the seeds are very small and could represent cultivated material.

The oldest remains of large seeds from clearly domesticated plants come from Bronze Age digs in Israel and Jordan, Jericho and Babe dh-Dhra.

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