Projects

2015 to 2019
<p>Development of improved lentil cultivars well-adapted to the local environment is an on-going process in the breeding program and is critical for long-term genetic gain. Recent climate instability adds another layer of complexity to breeding efforts. Continued genetic improvement of lentil will, therefore, involve the introduction of new alleles that extend beyond the existing adapted pool of germplasm. Our goal in AGILE is to enhance the productivity and quality of Canadian lentils by expediting the expansion of genetic diversity of the Canadian lentil germplasm base with the use of genomic technologies.</p>
2018
<p>Lentil breeders sometimes use exotic germplasm to broaden the genetic base and introduce desirable traits to elite cultivars. However, offsprings from these wide crosses often adapt poorly in the short growing season of western Canada. Identifying regions in the lentil genome that influences traits such as flowering time and maturity will help develop markers for breeders to effectively predict the adaption characteristics without trialing the plants in the field.&nbsp; To achieve this objective, we are phenotyping and genotyping several RILs that are developed from crosses of adapted and exotic germplasm.</p>
2018
<p>Lentils are known as low-fat, nutrient-dense foods with many health benefits. Part of these beneficial properties have been attributed to their colorful content, namely carotenoids, anthocyanins and other flavonoid pigments. Carotenoids are responsible for red, orange and yellow colors in plants, and they are of major importance in human diet as precursors of vitamin A, antioxidants, and for their anticancer properties. In lentils, differences in carotenoid concentration may explain the differences in cotyledon colors, which can be red, yellow or green. Anthocyanins are responsible for orange, red, and purple colors in plants, and have also been shown to reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Lentil seed coat colors can be green, brown, tan or black, with or without patterns. These differences might be explained by differences in anthocyanin, pro-anthocyanidin and carotenoid concentrations. We are working on characterizing the effects of the environment on these pigments in both the cotyledon and the seed coat, and the genetics underlying color determination. We are also interested in developing automated solutions to precisely and efficiently determine color variation and diversity in lentil cotyledon and seed coat.&nbsp;</p>
2018
<p>Growth habit, seed size and shattering are some of the most significant agronomic traits involved in the domestication process. Wild lentils tend to be prostrate while cultivated ones need to be upright, especially for disease avoidance and mechanical harvesting. Wild lentil seeds are tiny while cultivated ones tend to be slightly to significantly larger, depending on market class.&nbsp; Shattering is an effective method of seed dispersal in the wild but leads to terrible yields under crop conditions!</p><p>We are phenotyping and genotyping several interspecific RIL populations with a view to tagging regions of the lentil genome associated with the shift from a wild phenotype to a more farmer-friendly one. For phenotyping purposes, we are developing an imaging system (Nielsen, K et al, manuscript in preparation) to characterize more accurately and automatically traits such as leaf surface area and biomass.</p>
2017 to 2018
<p>Today, superior Canadian lentil cultivars are expected to grow well in our northern growing conditions while being resilient to various abiotic and biotic stresses.&nbsp; &nbsp;The breeders achieve this by using diverse materials in their crosses, but need to ensure that offspring from these crosses can flower and mature at the right time in Saskatchewan. If we could predict flowering and maturity traits in lentil effectively using genetic markers, we will then be able to devote more valuable resources to evaluating other important traits such as yield, disease resistance and seed quality.</p><p>To develop genetic markers, we are studying a RIL population from a cross between a South Asian line and a Canadian line.&nbsp; Under Saskatchewan field conditions, this population segregates for days to flowering and other traits related to plant development and maturity. The population has been genotyped and we will identify genetic regions influencing flowering time and maturity traits and turn over markers for these traits to lentil&nbsp; breeders.</p>
2018
<p>Wild Lentil Genetics and Genomics: LR-68 Stemphyllium Blight</p>
2018
<p>&nbsp;Wild Lentil Genetics and Genomics: LR-70 Ascochyta Blight</p>
2018
<p>Wild Lentil Genetics and Genomics: LR-74 Anthracnose Race 0</p>
2018
<p>Wild Lentil Genetics and Genomics: LR-74 Ascochyta Blight</p>
2017
<p>Nitrogen fixation is a symbiotic relation between legumes and Rhizobium that allows the bacteria to convert atmospheric nitrogen to other molecules (like ammonia) for the plant, and the plant to provide the bacteria with carbohydrates in exchange.&nbsp; We now know that this process provides many great benefits to the health of our soil and crops.</p><p>The effectiveness/intensity of the nitrogen fixation process is dependent on both the bacteria and the legume plant under specific environment.&nbsp; Wild species have contributed to the lentil crop with tolerance and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. We believe that our modern lentil varieties are "lazy fixer" as compared to their wild relatives, as they are bred under high fertility conditions and there is no need for them to establish relations with the rhizosphere.</p><p>To test this hypothesis, we are exploring 6 wild lentil species as well as a group of cultivated lentils to characterize their nitrogen fixing ability. The purpose is to identify specific genotypes with higher ability and to better understand potential contributions of wild plants to the domesticated lentil.</p>

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