Africa's population is increasing much more rapidly than its food production capacity. Cowpea is an important food and protein source, but insect pests are a severe constraint for its production. Insect sprays multiply yield, but are not available to most farmers. Introduction of insects resistance traits into the crop constitute a novel approach to solving the insect problem.
Cowpea forms with its wild progenitor a crop-weed complex and raises the concern that insect resistant transgenes move into wild populations and turn wild cowpea into an invasive weed.
We investigate a way to breed plants with flowers that do not attract pollinators and thus prevent pollen-flow. Specifically we will 1) identify aroma compounds that attract bees to cowpea flowers, 2) map genes controlling the amount of aroma compounds and closely linked molecular markers usable in marker assisted selection, 3) breed cowpea lines that lack insects attracting compounds and with late opening flowers.
The parents and vegetatively propagated F1, F2 (700 individuals), F3 (800), F4 (800), F5 (150) and F6 (150) generations have been screened of flower opening and scent composition.