Pulse School: Root rot resistance, biofortification, and the pulse crop breeding pipeline

While yield and lodging attributes will always be critical, pulse crop breeders have placed a high priority on root rot resistance in recent years, and are increasingly focused on the nutritional profile of new pea, lentil and chickpea varieties.

Tom Warkentin, pulse breeder at the Crop Development Centre at Saskatoon, joins us for this Pulse School episode to discuss what’s coming down the pipeline for new varieties and priorities for breeding future varieties.

“We’re putting more emphasis on high protein with pea and fababean because there’s new interest in fractionation of these crops, especially for protein fractions,” he says.

They’re also paying more attention to opportunities for biofortification, notes Warkentin. In other words, they’re “selecting types of pea, lentil, chickpea and other crops with higher levels of iron, zinc, carotenoids, folates — some of these micronutrients. We feel this will be interesting for markets, if not today, soon. We need to project out. The industry wants new markets…we feel better micronutrients could be something coming that might be attractive to customers, be they in developing countries or North America and Europe.”

As for root rot resistance, Warkentin says breeders are making progress on understanding diseases and sources of resistance to aphanomyces, fusarium and other root rot-causing organisms. He even offers a timeline for some aphanomyces resistance in new varieties.

“We would hope to have something out to seed growers in two to three years, something that could be interesting. It’s not going to be fully resistant, but it should be improved.”

Check out this Pulse School video or the podcast below for more on what’s coming for new pulse crop varieties from the Crop Development Centre:

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