Skip to Main Content

Black-eyed peas: Can we borrow their genes to improve other crops?


Illustration: Division of Research

Cowpeas, known as black-eyed peas in the United States, are an important and versatile food legume grown in more than 80 countries. Texas A&M University scientists are working to map the genes controlling drought and heat tolerance in recent varieties.

New and improved varieties of cowpeas have numerous adaptive traits of agronomic importance, such as 60-70 day maturity, drought tolerance, heat tolerance, aphid resistance and low phosphorus tolerance, said Dr. Meiping Zhang, Texas A&M AgriLife Research associate research scientist in College Station.

Under a National Institute for Food and Agriculture grant of $500,000, Zhang and other Texas A&M scientists will take advantage of the recently developed DNA sequencing technology to map and ultimately clone the genes controlling drought and heat tolerance for molecular studies and deployment of these genes in other crops, she said.