Pulse Evolution - PulseResearch
April 25, 2017
Research helps increase the speed of developing better, strong pulse varieties
As global demand for pulses increases, so too does the demand for higher-quality and better-performing pulse varieties. Pulse breeders are tasked with developing new pulse varieties to meet this constant demand.
Fortunately, the technology and research involved with breeding is continually evolving as well, and researchers and breeders at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre (CDC) are on the leading edge of this trend. For example, Dr. Tom Warkentin, a Plant Breeder at the CDC, spoke of recent research facilitated at the CDC that oversaw the development of Rapid Generation Technology (RGT), a series of protocols that employs genetics and advanced technology to accelerate the pulse breeding process.
“With RGT, plants are grown under conditions that result in miniature plants which flower and mature earlier than under normal growing conditions,” Dr. Warkentin says. “Miniaturization is achieved by growing the plants in crowded conditions and/or by applying plant hormones that shorten plant internodes. Before the resulting seeds are fully mature, they are excised and replanted to start the next generation.”
Dr. Warkentin, along with fellow CDC researchers Dr. Kirstin Bett, Dr. Monika Lulsdorf, Dr. Saeid Mobini, Shermy Mudiyanselage, Dr. Bunyamin Tar’an, Dr. Susan Slater, and Dr. Bert Vandenberg, developed basic RGT protocols for faba beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas, and dry beans by optimizing procedures for these crops including seed sterilization, germination, plant hormone treatments, and culture media using CDC varieties or breeding lines. According to Dr. Warkentin, the main benefit of the RGT protocols is the rate at which it accelerates breeding times. “Generation time can be reduced from over 100 days, under typical field or greenhouse conditions, to approximately 50 days, using rapid generation techniques,” he says. “Meaning, for special crosses, we can advance them through six generations in a year. This can be useful when developing populations for specific genetic studies or for advancing high priority breeding populations.”
Once the basic RGT protocol research had been completed, there was still more work to be done. CDC researchers began a follow-up research project in 2012, funded by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG), which is currently looking at how to best adapt and optimize RGT specifically to each pulse crop. For example, one part of the research is focusing on optimizing the RGT protocol in lentils in order to help produce varieties with resistance to multiple herbicides at a quicker speed. Other parts of the research are focusing on optimizing RGT procedures for dry beans, integrating marker-assisted selection and embryo rescue to enhance resistance to anthracnose and common bacterial blight. The project also aims to optimize RGT protocols for faba beans, field peas, and chickpeas to speed up the breeding process without affecting end quality.
Once complete in 2015, it is hoped that this research will accelerate the development of populations for genetic studies and gene markers, which will assist breeders in addressing important traits that growers are looking for in new varieties.
SPG Investment: $791,142
Researchers: University of Saskatchewan's Crop Development Centre researchers Dr. Kirstin Bett, Dr. Monika Lulsdorf, Dr. Saeid Mobini, Shermy Mudiyanselage, Dr. Bunyamin Tar'an, Dr. Susan Slater, and Dr. Bert Vandenberg