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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » Grain Legume Genetics Physiology Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #142455


item McPhee, Kevin

Submitted to: International Journal of Food, Agriculture, and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/4/2003
Publication Date: 1/15/2003
Citation: Mcphee, K.E. 2003. Dry pea production and breeding - a mini-review. International Journal of Food, Agriculture, and the Environment. 1 (1):64-69.

Interpretive Summary: Dry pea is an important agricultural crop worldwide due to its rotational benefits with cereals and the nutritional value of its seed. Germplasm enhancement and breeding efforts have improved pea production since domestication. Gregor Mendel used pea in his studies which established the fundamental principles of genetics. The pea crop is affected by many biotic and abiotic stresses which limit production potential and reduce seed quality and value. Biotic stresses include insects, fungal pathogens and viruses, while abiotic stress results from extreme environmental conditions. Genetic resistance to many diseases is controlled by a single gene; however, resistance to several soil-borne fungal pathogens and abiotic stresses display multigenic inheritance and can be difficult to select. DNA markers have been developed through gene mapping and serve as significant aids to selection in breeding programs. Mutagenesis and gene technology have been used to introduce desired traits where natural genetic varation is not adequate. Gene technology involves the introduction of genes from unrelated species and has successfully introduced resistance to the seed weevil (Bruchus pisorum). Gene technology promises to improve crop performance while more traditional DNA technologies such as gene mapping and marker assisted selection promise to aid plant breeding using naturally existing genetic information. Application of biotechnology to pea improvement coupled with its many agronomic and nutritional benefits will ensure its continued presence in cropping systems worldwide.

Technical Abstract: Dry pea (Pisum sativum L.) was domesticated over 9000 years ago and has been produced in association with cereals since that time. Its seed is highly nutritious and approximately half the world production is fed to livestock while the remaining portion is used for human food, primarily in developing counties. Pea is a cool-season legume crop produced in cool temperate climates worldwide for its highly nutritious seed and many rotational benefits in cereal grain production. Major production constraints for pea include crop pests and adverse environmental conditions such as frost, drought and excessive heat. Viral and fungal pathogens economically impact seed production and quality; however, resistance to several of these pathogens is available and has been incorporated into many adapted cultivars. Genetic improvement of pea began with domestication and has been aided more recently by decades of research beginning with Gregor Mendel¿s initial discovery of inheritance. Since that time a myriad of geneticists have discovered novel traits and created detailed genetic maps of the Pisum genome. Population improvement has been achieved through introduction of novel traits from wild germplasm and landraces as well as pyramiding multiple positive alleles in adapted genetic backgrounds. Marker assisted selection is possible in pea due to the development of detailed genetic maps and DNA markers, however the expense and inconvenience associated with using a number of different protocols which were used to identify the markers has limited their application. Efficient gene transfer through gene technology provides breeding programs an additional tool to overcome deficiencies in genetic variation within Pisum germplasm. Nutritional and agronomic benefits of dry pea ensure its inclusion in production systems worldwide while the application of modern DNA technology and gene technology promises to overcome many current production constraints.