Calgary, AB – Field peas are a drought-resistant vegetable which can help meet the demand of our growing, global population, and the while decrease Canada’s carbon footprint.
Dr. Marcus Samuel, PhD, biological sciences professor at the University of Calgary and Dr. Sateesh Kagale, PhD, a senior research officer with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) are developing a climate resilient, low carbon footprint field pea through genomic technologies that can be quickly adopted by farmers. As well as their traditional uses in foods like soups and vegetable medleys, peas are used widely as a plant-based protein in vegan products.
“Nitrous oxide from nitrogen fertilizers is a major greenhouse gas that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat. Peas belong to the legume family and require little external nitrogen, making them exceptionally climate efficient. They really are the perfect crop for this research,” said Dr. Samuel.
Field peas can provide the same amount of protein as animal sources, but with less than one per cent of the emissions. The experts from UCalgary and the NRC will use state-of-the-art genomic technologies to increase the quality, profitability and resilience of peas grown in Canada. This will make field peas less susceptible to root rot and drought and lead to increased uptake in crop rotations.
Dr. Sateesh Kagale, PhD, Senior Research Officer, NRC said “With fewer genomics resources invested in pea breeding, farmers are struggling with low yields caused by root rot and drought.” He added “through the scaling of modern genomic technologies, we aim to unlock the vast wealth of information encoded within the genomes of peas and their relatives in the Fabaceae family.
The PeaCE (pea climate-efficient) project was selected as one of nine projects through Genome Canada’s Interdisciplinary Challenge Teams and awarded over $7 million to carry out the research. The initiative delivers cutting-edge genomics research and innovation to help reduce the carbon footprint of Canada’s food production systems. In total, Genome Canada is investing $30 million in the initiative.
“This project has immense potential to significantly enhance pea genetic and genomic resources, laying the foundation for transformative varietal development,” said Kagale.
Once developed, the resilient pea crop will provide a high-protein, low-footprint food source while contributing to Canadian economic growth, jobs and exports.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be developing a crop that will meet the needs of our growing population while decreasing our carbon footprint,” said Kristin Baetz, Dean of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Science.
“It really is a win-win situation,” said Baetz.