Lentil genome sequencing (LenGen): establishing a comprehensive platform for molecular breeding

2013 to 2016

Lentil is a very important crop for the Saskatchewan economy.  In contrast to the industry success, lentil itself is considered an orphan crop from a genomics perspective.  Until recently, very few molecular genetic and genomic resources existed for lentil, partly due to its relatively large genome size (~4.2Gb).  Improvements in sequencing technologies and a decrease in sequencing costs have made it possible for the research community to now tackle organisms with large genomes.   Knowledge of the genome of both cultivated lentil and its wild relatives is critical for accelerating the pace of breeding via marker-assisted selection, and for mining of useful genetic variation from more exotic germplasm via marker-assisted background selection or introgression.   

Our approach to sequencing the lentil genome is two-fold.  First, we are generating a high quality draft genome for a single lentil genotype (CDC Redberry), including bulk sequencing, assembly of chromosomal ‘pseudomolecules’, and gene prediction and annotation.  Secondly, we are re-sequencing various lentil accessions from around the globe to reveal the breath of genetic potential present in our germplasm resources.  The outcome will give us i) an understanding of how modern breeding has re-shaped the lentil genome, ii) identification of genes and genomic interval that control agronomic traits, and iii) discovery of many genetic polymorphisms for future marker development, that together will add considerable resources to the breeder’s toolbox for lentil genetic improvement.  More importantly, the results of this project will allow us to leverage knowledge of important trait based on conservation of genome-based features with other legume crops (such as Medicago and chickpea).

Collaborators: University of Saskatchewan; University of California - Davis; USDA-ARS, Pullman, WA; ICARDA-Morocco; Victoria Department of Environmental and Primary Industries, Australia; University of Queensland, Australia; Institute of Experimental Botany, Czech Republic

Research Area
Breeding & Genetics

Plant breeding is the art and science of changing the traits of plants in order to produce desired characteristics. Plant breeding can be accomplished through many different techniques ranging from simply selecting plants with desirable characteristics for propagation, to more complex molecular techniques. ... [more]

Related Species

Lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) is an important pulse crop with annual production of 3-4 Mt across 70 countries (Cubero et al. 2009. DOI 10.1079/9781845934873.0000; pg. 13). Lentils are a good source of protein, carbohydrates, micronutrients and vitamins for human nutrition and is consumed in more than 120 countries. Furthermore, their small seed size and flat shape make them relatively quick cooking and easily decorticated compared to most other grain legumes (Sharpe et al. 2013. BMC Genomics. DOI 10.1186/1471-2164-14-192). The Lentil plant has a bushy growth habit with a height of about 40 cm; the seeds are lens-shaped and usually grow two per pod. ... [more]

Sequences, Variants & Markers