High-temperature stress is an important abiotic stress that significantly affects the growth and yield of agriculture crops, including cowpea, and is thus a great concern for global food security. Harnessing variability in crop germplasm through various breeding techniques could be a viable option for improving tolerance to various abiotic stresses, including heat stress. Classical breeding approaches have been used to determine the genetics of heat tolerance in cowpea. However, progress has been hampered as heat tolerance is governed by multiple genes and is highly influenced by G × E effects. During the last decade, the increase in cowpea genomic resources has played a key role in elucidating the QTLs controlling heat stress tolerance. Advances in transcriptome resources have also uncovered plausible candidate gene(s) in response to heat tolerance. Likewise, proteomic and metabolomic approaches have offered novel insights into the response of various heat shock and other related proteins and metabolites involved in heat stress tolerance. Most importantly, increasing the precision of phenotyping approaches would enable us to close the genotype–phenotype gap to better understand the heat tolerance response in cowpea. Next-generation breeding techniques, such as MAGIC, genomic selection, speed breeding, and genome editing tools, have the potential to accelerate the creation of heat-tolerant cowpea genotypes.
- Gene pool
- Heat stress