Narrator: This is Science Today. The cowpea is a protein-rich legume crop that is a staple in the diets of millions of Africans, but drought, disease and pest infestation can result in devastating crop losses and hunger. Now, a team of scientists at the University of California, Riverside have received a three-year, $1.7 million dollar grant to study the cowpea. Philip Roberts, who leads UC Riverside's Bean/Cowpea Collaborative Research Support Program, says they have field stations in Africa and in areas of California that mimic the sandy soil conditions of an African drought.
Roberts: We can grow out many different cowpea varieties or types and screen for those that do better under pathogen pressure. So, we can pick out the ones that have resistance and then we can use those as parents in a breeding program to transfer through traditional crossing, transfer resistance genes for those pathogens into the improved varieties.Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.