We provide the academic base for enhancing the economic value of the UK pea crop.
Pulse crops contribute positively to the goals of crop diversification and the reduction of agricultural inputs, and are an efficient source of plant-derived protein for food and animal feed. However, problems of cultivation and of nutritional value limit their uses and their attractiveness to farmers. This is why we established the Pulse Crop Genetic Improvement Network (PCGIN), to work towards legume crop improvement in the UK.
In close collaboration with stakeholder and end-users of the pea crop, our research will provide new understanding of protein composition in relation to yield, anti-nutritional properties, health-promoting properties, and industrial uses; and new germplasm for breeders.
Our current pea research focuses on understanding the biology and genetics underpinning important pea traits. The knowledge that we generate addresses some of the key challenges facing breeders, growers, producers and consumers of pea and translates to other pulse crops.
We have worked on peas since the institute was founded in 1910 and use a variety of modern genetic tools and resources including our extensive on-site Germplasm Resources Unit that contains pea germplasm from all around the world.
By studying trait genetics within the pea collection, we can identify considerable allelic variation for the genes controlling significant plant and seed characteristics.
In 2016, we contributed to the development of an international 10-year research strategy for the pulse crops, which has been approved by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
We strive not only to apply our research to achieve improvements within the pea and other pulse crops, but also to raise the profile of pulses as a sustainable food source.