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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Grain Legume Genetics Physiology Research » Research » Research Project #445171

Research Project: Enhancing Agronomic Performance and Nutritional Qualities of Pulse Crops

Location: Grain Legume Genetics Physiology Research

Project Number: 2090-21000-038-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 22, 2023
End Date: Apr 21, 2028

Peas, lentils, and chickpeas are three “pulse crops” that are typically grown in rotations with small cereal grains, primarily wheat and barley. Their use as rotational crops provides many benefits to cereal grain production, including contribution of residual nitrogen produced by their symbiotic association with nitrogen-fixing rhizobacteria, disruption of cyclical diseases affecting cereal grains, and control of grassy weeds. Although the great majority of pulses are planted in the spring, there is increasing interest in autumn-sown pulses, especially in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains, where the only viable crop because of limited precipitation may be winter wheat. Pulse production is challenged by many diseases including Aphanomyces root rot, Ascochyta blight, and Sclerotinia white mold. Pathogens continue to develop fungicide resistance. Disease resistance is lacking in popular cultivars. Fundamental knowledge is needed of how Sclerotinia sclerotiorum infects and cause disease on hundreds of different crops. Better understanding is required of traits that influence how proteins derived from pulses function as food ingredients. Improved cultivars are needed to address production challenges and meet emerging market demands for quality and functionality. Objective 1: Conduct research to develop, evaluate, and release new germplasm and varieties of peas, lentils, and chickpeas with superior agronomic performance and enhanced nutritional qualities. Objective 2: Conduct research to improve basic understanding of the genetic control of seed yield, disease resistance, and nutritional qualities, such as seed protein concentration, iron, zinc, and fatty acids, in pea, lentil, and chickpea. Objective 3: Conduct research to characterize mechanisms of virulence and pathogenicity of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, the causal agent of white mold in pulse crops, and work with breeders to use the information for breeding resistant pulse varieties and/or germplasm.

Sub-objective 1.A Goal: Develop and release improved pea, lentil, and chickpea germplasm and cultivars with superior agronomic performance and nutritional qualities. Sub-objective 1.B Goal: Characterize protein isolates of popular pulse cultivars for functional properties and identify sources of genetic variation for functional traits. Objective 2 Goal: Discover SNPs that are associated with agronomic and nutritional quality traits in pea, lentil, and chickpea and identify putative genes involved in disease resistance and nutritional qualities. Objective 3 Hypothesis: As a necrotrophic pathogen, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum uses the virulence effector SsE3 to control cell death process by interacting with plant fatty acid hydroxylases.