• Cowpea is a dryland crop with potential to improve food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Contemporary plant improvement technologies, including genome editing, marker-assisted selection, and optimized transformation protocols, are being deployed to improve cowpea characteristics. Integrating speed breeding with these technologies would accelerate genetic gain in cowpea breeding.
  • Expression of Cre recombinase by AtRps5apro or AtDD45pro enabled Cre/lox-mediated recombination at an early embryonic developmental stage upon crossing, activating transgenes in the hybrid cowpea and tobacco.
  • In an interview with Dr Vipula (“Vi”) Shukla of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the new Luminaries section of the American Society of Plant Biologists’ Nov/Dec 2020 newsletter on pages 14-16, Dr Shukla references the HyGain project on page 15.
  • The ability to switch between sexual and asexual modes of reproduction in plants is being exploited to help some of the world’s poorest crop farmers.
    By exploiting quirks in plant reproduction, an international team of researchers funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and headed by Professor Anna Koltunow of The University of Queensland are seeking to improve the bottom line for farmers.
  • Exploiting quirks in plant reproduction could boost yields in two staple crops, sorghum and cowpea, for crop farming communities in sub-Saharan Africa (SA). That’s the endgame of Hy-Gain, a multi-million dollar international collaborative research project led by University of Queensland’s Professor Anna Koltunow, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Publications and Presentations

​The Capturing Heterosis project (Phase 1) was led by CSIRO and conducted from September 2014 to July 2019. Below are some of the published articles and presentations since the conclusion of this project phase and into the Hy-Gain project (Phase 2). 

Sekiguchi, Y. et al. Chemical emasculation in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) and dicotyledonous model species using trifluoromethanesulfonamide (TFMSA). Plant Reproduction (2023).

Edet, O. U. and Ishii, T. Cowpea speed breeding using regulated growth chamber conditions and seeds of oven-dried immature pods potentially accommodates eight generations per year. Plant Methods (2022).

Marimuthu, M.P.A et al. Epigenetically mismatched parental centromeres trigger genome elimination in hybrids. Science Advances 7: 47 (2021).

Zhang, Z. et al.  Gene activation via Cre/lox-mediated excision upon hybridization of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). Plant Cell Reports (2021).

Kuo, Y. et al. The evolutionary dynamics of repetitive DNA and its impact on the genome diversification in the genus Sorghum. Frontiers in Plant Science 12: 729734 (2021).

Che, P. Advanced cowpea transformation and genome editing system using embryonic axis explants. Presented as part of the Soybean and Cowpea Transformation Masterclass on Tuesday 22 June 2021.

Ozias-Akins, P. Cowpea transformation transportability across labs. Presented as part of the Soybean and Cowpea Transformation Masterclass on Tuesday 22 June 2021.

Ke, Y. et al. Single-cell transcriptome profiling of buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris) eggs unveils apomictic parthenogenesis signatures. Sci Rep 11, 9880 (2021). 

Che, P. et al. Developing a rapid and highly efficient cowpea regeneration, transformation and genome editing system using embryonic axis explants. The Plant Journal 106, 817-830 (2021)

Ishii, T. et al. Unequal contribution of two paralogous CENH3 variants in cowpea centromere function. Commun Biol 3, 775 (2020).

Zhang, Z. et al. Haploidy in Tobacco Induced by PsASGR-BBML Transgenes via Parthenogenesis. Genes 11(9):1072 (2020).

Juranić, M. et al. A detached leaf assay for testing transient gene expression and gene editing in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata [L.] Walp.). Plant Methods 16, 88 (2020).


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Hy-Gain for smallholders
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