Variation in pea (Pisum sativum L.) seed quality traits defined by physicochemical functional properties

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Pea is one of the most produced and consumed pulse crops around the world. The study of genetic variability within pea germplasm is an important tool to identify outstanding accessions with optimal functional and nutritional qualities. In the present study, a collection of 105 pea accessions was analysed for physicochemical properties, pasting viscosity, and basic composition parameters. While pasting viscosities were negatively correlated to hydration capacity, cooking time, and basic composition, a positive correlation was found between the hydration capacity and the basic composition parameters. Basic composition (protein, fibre, fat, and resistant starch) parameters were further evaluated regarding seed trait morphology, namely, seed shape, colour, and surface. Allelic characterisation at the r and rb genetic loci was performed in a subgroup of 32 accessions (3 phenotyped as smooth and 29 as rough seeded), revealing that none of the initially classified rough-seeded accessions were rb mutants, 19 were r mutants, and 13 were neither r nor rb. Despite their initial phenotypic classification, the 13 accessions genetically classified as smooth behaved differently (p < 0.05) to the 19 r mutants in terms of physicochemical properties, pasting viscosity, and basic composition parameters. Using multivariate analysis of the most discriminatory parameters for the food-related traits studied, the best-performing accessions at functional and nutritional levels were identified for future plant breeding to improve field pea production and consumption.