Seed World

Genomics Tools in Pulse Breeding? Glen Hawkins Says it’s Complicated

Glen Hawkins, seed production manager and pulse breeder for DL Seeds and chair of the Prairie Recommending Committee for Pulses and Special Crops, sits down with Marc Zienkiewicz to chat about what’s new in pulses and what role new breeding techniques could play in the future of the crop. Interview conducted at the recent Prairie Grain Development Committee (PGDC) meeting in Banff, Alta. on March 1.

Hawkins says while genomics tools and new breeding techniques have a lot of promise in crops like canola, pulses are a different matter and we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Genomics, molecular biology, and sequencing have made significant advancements in recent years, particularly in canola genomes, he notes. The utilization of genomic information in crop breeding has opened new avenues for improving crop traits, such as yield, quality, and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Genomic data can also facilitate the development of more efficient and sustainable crop management practices, he adds.

However, it is true that research in some crops, such as pulses, may receive less investment than crops with higher market share and profitability.

“Despite that, the development of genomic resources in pulses can also have big impacts on improving their productivity and sustainability,” he said. The use of genomic tools can help identify genetic markers associated with important traits, accelerating the breeding process and enhancing the efficiency of crop improvement.