Bambara groundnut is an African legume grown in a variety of agro-ecological environments. It has an underground pod development similar to groundnut. The crop is considered drought resistant and appreciated as a local source of food. Apart from its generally good resistance to adverse conditions it plays a particular role in food security as it, unlike groundnut, can be harvested before ripening and thus provide food during the so called hunger gap. In many regions it is considered a women's crop and often fetches a premium price on local markets. Some research has been undertaken, but no systematic improvement of the crop has been attempted and there are no commercial varieties available. Despite its hardy nature and relatively high yielding under poor conditions the lag of development compared to other crops has made it become less important. Large unexploited collections of landraces have been established but only partly been described. Earlier research has largely been based on quite heterogeneous landraces which are problematic for detailed physiological studies. The unpredicable climate in Africa highlights the importance of developing hardy crops such as bambara groundnut. The objective of this project is to contribute to a fundament for future development of the crop. In this project, an ideotype for bambara groundnut will be proposed to increase yield potential without sacrificing its hardiness and drought resistance. Such traits will include morphological traits as leaf area index, seeds per pod, seed size, internode length, determinancy of leaf initiation and root development and physiological traits as drought signaling, stomata regulation, stay green mechanisms. Single plants from landraces with characteristic traits will be genetically stabilised and tested under various agro-ecological conditions and variation of yield determining agronomic traits, their interrelation and relation to shifting environments will be evaluated. Variation in drought resistant mechanisms will be tested partly in field trials in Africa and partly under controlled conditions in Denmark. The identification of genotypes with good drought resistant characteristics will be a basis for future systematic development of the crop. Genetic stable and superior lines can, due to the strong inbreeding nature of the crop, be maintained by farmers and will be handed over to National Seed Programs and NGO's for multiplication and dissemination.
Project Completion Report:
Bambara groundnut is an African legume grown in a variety of agro-ecological environments. The crop is drought resistant and appreciated as a local source of food and plays a particular role in food security. In the present study, we have investigated the physiological mechansims of different bambara groundnut landraces to both intermittent and terminal droughts under both greenhouse and field conditions. We have identified several promising landraces (Uniswa red and S19-3) with significantly higher yield under water deficit conditions. This knowledge will be essential for selecting more suitable bambara genotypes obtaining higher yield in drought prone areas in Burkina Faso and Tanzania.