Understanding the genetic basis of photosynthetic efficiency (PE) contributing to enhanced seed yield per plant (SYP) is vital for genomics‐assisted crop improvement of chickpea. The current study employed an integrated genomic strategy involving photosynthesis pathway gene‐based association mapping, genome‐wide association study, quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping, and expression profiling. This identified 16 potential single nucleotide polymorphism loci linked to major QTLs underlying 16 candidate genes significantly associated with PE and SYP traits in chickpea. The allelic variants were tightly linked to positively interacting QTLs regulating both enhanced PE and SYP traits as exemplified by a chlorophyll A‐B binding protein‐coding gene. The leaf tissue‐specific pronounced up‐regulated expression of 16 associated genes in germplasm accessions and homozygous individuals of mapping population was evident. Such combinatorial genomic strategy coupled with gene haplotype‐specific association and in silico protein–protein interaction study delineated natural alleles and superior haplotypes from a chlorophyll A‐B binding (CAB) protein‐coding gene and its interacting gene, Timing of CAB Expression 1 (TOC1), which appear to be most promising candidates in modulating chickpea PE and SYP traits. These functionally pertinent molecular signatures identified have efficacy to drive marker‐assisted selection for developing PE‐enriched cultivars with high seed yield in chickpea.
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