In times of concerns regarding malnutrition issues and sustainable farm practices, cool season food legumes, such as field pea, lentil and chickpea are becoming more popular. They are valuable annual crops that present significant protein content, averaging 20 to 27%, along with other minerals and vitamins that can vary from variety to variety. In addition, as part of the Fabaceae family, these legumes have the capability of nitrogen fixation, which make these crops a great option to be used in crop rotation to improve the soil and to reduce nitrogen application costs.
Pea, Pisum sativum L., a self-pollinated diploid (2n=14 chromosomes) has a genome of 4,300 Mb/1C, which is about 10-fold larger than the model legume Medicago truncatula, and about 4-fold larger than the soybean genome. Compared to these species, it is rich in repetitive DNA, which was estimated to comprise 75–97% of its nuclear DNA. To partially overcome such complexity, marker technology for Pisum has been improved for several years, mainly on disease resistance and simple traits that can be integrated into conventional breeding programs. More research on this crop can be found through this database. Some of the benefits of consuming peas are also related to the contents of cholesterol-lowering fiber, vitamins such as B and K and carbohydrates, mainly as the form of total sugars and starch, sugars, or low molecular weight carbohydrates in mature pea seed include simple sugars (glucose, fructose, sucrose, sorbitol) and raffinose family oligosacchardies (raffinose, stachyose, verbascose). Green, yellow and marrowfat field pea varieties are popular in the Palouse farming areas of the United States.
Lentil, Lens culinaris L., a self-pollinated diploid (2n=14 chromosomes), also has a relatively large genome size, approximately 4Gb. Different varieties of lentils have been predominantly grown for human consumption as a rich source of protein for many centuries, many researchers consider them as being ancient legumes. With small pods, a range of seed colors that vary from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black can be found in this crop.
Chickpea, Cicer arietum L., a self-pollinated diploid (2n=16 chromosomes), also called garbanzo bean, is another important cold season legume widely used for food throughout the world. The complete plastid genome of chickpea has been found to be 125,319 bp in size, encoding 108 genes. The production and consumption of chickpeas have grown significantly in the United States during the past few decades.