While there is a growing interest in the use of pea seeds and their constituents as food ingredients, delivering both novelty and health benefits, challenges remain for breeders in stabilising crop yields and in selecting efficiently for those seed traits that are linked to premium farmgate prices.

The paper by Moreau et al. in the Special Issue of Plant Genetic Resources describes the generation of a genetic resource for pea which will enable the identification and characterisation of genes controlling important agronomic and seed quality traits. The paper describes how three varieties were chosen as parental lines from the breeders’ cultivated gene pool, based on their contrasting traits and genetic distance. These parental varieties (cultivars Brutus, Enigma and Kahuna, representing distinct market classes of pea) were used to develop three inter-related populations of single-seed descent lines, ca. 600 lines in total.

The authors demonstrate the value of the resource by identifying regions of the pea genetic map associated with seed size and overall yield. Four genetic regions were found to control seed size, with one of these making a major contribution to determining the large size of the marrowfat pea, which is desired for many foods and snack products.

This genetic information will facilitate greatly the selection of plants from breeding programmes by using markers to identify the desired lines and speed up breeding and selection. The resource will be made available as advanced generation lines through the JIC Genetic Resources Unit.

For more information, view the Open Access paper:

Recombinant inbred lines derived from cultivars of pea for understanding the genetic basis of variation in breeders’ traits by, Carol Moreau, Maggie Knox, Lynda Turner, Tracey Rayner, Jane Thomas, Haidee Philpott, Steve Belcher, Keith Fox, Noel Ellis and Claire Domoney

View all the papers in the Special Issue of Plant Genetic Resources here: Legume Genetic and Pre-breeding Resources

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