Pisum sativum

Common NamePea

Pea (Pisum sativum L.) is one of the first domesticated crops, and was the model crop for the foundational genetic studies by Gregor Mendel, which he first reported in 1865. Pea is grown in most temperate regions of the world with annual production over the past decade of 10-12 million tonnes of field pea and 14-17 million tonnes of vegetable pea. Pea belongs to the Leguminosae family and consists of two species, P. fulvum and P. sativum with several ‘wild’ subspecies of P. sativum. Canada is the leading producer and exporter of field pea in the world. Saskatchewan is the leading province in pea production followed by Alberta and Manitoba.

Pea is a rich source of protein, slowly digestible starch, fiber, vitamins and minerals at a modest price. Whole pea, pea flour, and pea fractions (protein, starch, fiber) are becoming widely used in many food products, and specialty aquaculture and pet food applications.

Most pea breeding activities in the world are conducted in public institutions in Canada, USA, Australia, Europe, India and China, with smaller programs in Africa and South America. A few private companies breeding pea are based in Europe, USA and New Zealand. Through breeding and agronomic improvements, field pea yields have increased by approximately 2% per year over the past 15 years. Lodging resistance has been improved through selection for the semileafless trait and stem stiffness. Internationally, key efforts are underway to address disease resistance (particularly fungal), abiotic stress resistance, and seed quality through conventional and molecular breeding approaches.

Property NameValue
Genome Size~4.3 Gbp
Modal Chromosome Number2n=14
Principal Investigator
  • Tom D. Warkentin Tom D. Warkentin: Breeding field pea varieties and conducting related research in collaboration with colleagues in areas including disease resistance, abiotic stress resistance, and nutritional quality.
Plant breedingDevelopment of high yielding field pea cultivars with resistance to powdery mildew and improved resistance to ascochyta blight, root rots, and lodging with superior quality for export and domestic markets.
Seed phenotypeyellow, green, red, marrowfat, maple, forage, sprouting
Taxonomy cellular organisms; Eukaryota; Viridiplantae; Streptophyta; Streptophytina; Embryophyta; Tracheophyta; Euphyllophyta; Spermatophyta; Magnoliophyta; Mesangiospermae; eudicotyledons; Gunneridae; Pentapetalae; rosids; fabids; Fabales; Fabaceae; Papilionoideae; Fabeae; Pisum
Germplasm Data
The following germplasm data is currently available:
Stock TypeCount
Single Cross1,540
Triple Cross1,374
Double Cross161
Multiple Cross31
Recombinant Inbred Line19
Sequence & Variant Data
The following sequence and variant data are currently present:
Feature TypeCount
2012 to 2015
This group is involved in a wide range of biotechnology projects that accelerate the legume breeding process. Double-haploid technology has been achieved in both chickpea and field pea by the CDC group in collaboration with colleagues in France and Australia. Efforts are underway to adapt this technology to lentil. Improving efficiency and integrating these techniques into routine breeding programs to enhance genetic gain are important long-term goals.
2013 to 2015
The objectives of this study are to determine the effect of genotype and environment on iron bioavailability in a set of five pea varieties differing in phytate concentration using the Caco-2 mammalian cell bioassay, to determine whether iron bioavailability in field pea is heritable by evaluating recombinant inbred lines differing in phytate concentration using the Caco-2 mammalian cell bioassay, and to determine the effect of the pea low phytate trait on chicken performance and iron bioavailability in chicken.
2008 to 2013
Phytate is the major storage form of phosphorus in crop seeds, but is not well digested by humans and non-ruminant animals. In addition, phytate chelates several essential micronutrients which are also excreted contributing to phosphorus pollution in the environment. The present study is aimed at biochemical and molecular characterization of two low phytate pea mutant lines, 1-150-81 and 1-2347-144 developed at the Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan in collaboration with Dr. Victor Raboy, USDA, Idaho.
2009 to 2013
Ascochyta blight caused by Mycosphaerella pinodes (MP) is the most important pea disease in Canada and most pea growing regions in the world, often causing serious yield losses. Genetic resistance to ascochyta blight accumulated through two decades of breeding reduces disease severity, however, under cool, wet conditions, the resistance is not sufficient to prevent economic losses. Some accessions of Pisum fulvum, a wild relative of field pea, possess a high level of resistance to ascochyta blight. This project was designed to initiate a long-term strategy for enhancement of ascochyta blight resistance in pea using an integrated genetic improvement approach through interspecific hybridization, careful phenotyping and molecular genotyping.
2010 to 2012
The objective of this study is to determine the genetic control of several traits in field pea including mycosphaerella blight resistance, lodging resistance and micronutrient concentration by genotyping and phenotyping a recombinant inbred line population which is segregating for these traits.
2010 to 2012
The nutritional value of pea, lentil, chickpea and dry bean grains are highly important for human health. Biofortification, enriching the nutritional contribution of staple crops through plant breeding, is one option that is now widely discussed in the fields of nutrition and public health at the national and international levels.
2009 to 2011
A detailed analysis of pea, spring wheat and canola and other praririe crops is part of a current collaboration (2009-2011) with Dr Lynn Seymour, Department of Statistics, University of Georgia, USA. The aim of this project is to explore and relate the variability in yields for Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba crop districts to 30 years of weather. The objectives are to identify the effect of changed weather on crop adaptation, identify the threshold temperatures and rainfall requirement for stable yield, and develop a strategy for improving future cultivars to keep pace with climate change. At the cropping district level, researchers and growers will be able to connect how much change in yield for wheat, pea or canola will result when certain weather measurements deviate from monthly averages or extremes for the actual months within a cropping season. When we know how yield performs when several weather factors change together, we can change crop management accordingly, and we can provide future varieties that can tolerate a shifting climate.
An Illumina Golden Gate array was developed using SNPs identified as part of the Pea 454 Sequencing & Genotyping Project. Loci where chosen such that the SNPs should be distributed evenly across the genome based on comparison to Medicago truncatula.
2004 to 2010
Pea yields on the prairies are not consistent in amount from year to year due to stress in the growing season. Pea yields are substantially reduced in warm summers. A preliminary analysis of the check varieties, as well as newly released varieties (cultivars) from the Saskatchewan and Western Canada Cooperative pea yield trials (2000 to 2009) shows that days to maturity and length of reproductive growth are both reduced in warm or dry summers, resulting in low yield. With a warming climate, the pea crop is going to be stressed more often, resulting in shorter times of growth and substantial reductions in yield amount and quality. An analysis of the COOP yield trials should be completed by late 2010.
Development of cultivars with improved nutritional profile and agronomic characters are among the major objectives in field pea breeding at the Crop Development Centre (CDC).In this project, 169 pea accessions of the cultivated pea Pisum sativum, wild relative species P. fulvum and several wild sub-species accessions (subspp. abyssinicum, arvense, and elatius) collected from eastern Europe, Russia and Canada were screened for their nutritional profile including total starch, amylose, amylopectin, fiber and protein by wet chemistry and/or near infrared (NIR) methods, and for reaction to ascochyta blight under controlled and/or field conditions.