Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Plant and Environmental Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dil Thavarajah

Committee Member

Shiv Kumar

Committee Member

J. Lucas Boatwright

Committee Member

William Bridges

Committee Member

Stephen Kresovich


Lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) is a cool-season food legume cultivated around the globe. This pulse crop boasts a rich nutrient profile including high concentrations of prebiotic carbohydrates, protein, essential amino acids, and micronutrients, such as folate, iron, zinc, and selenium. Prebiotic carbohydrates promote a healthy gut microbiome, which, in turn, is associated with reduced risk of numerous pathologies including obesity/overweight, type II diabetes, irritable bowel disease, and colon cancer. Known as “poor man’s meat,” lentil also provides high quality plant-based protein at a low cost. As the world increasingly looks to crops to supplement and replace animal-based protein, lentil protein offers an excellent alternative. To fully take advantage of lentil’s unique nutrient profile and promote global food security, breeding programs may wish to add prebiotic carbohydrates and protein quality to their breeding target traits. Additionally, with the advance of genomics-assisted breeding approaches, genetic markers could significantly accelerate breeding efforts through marker-assisted selection and genomic selection. However, crucial lentil population data, genetic resources, and high-throughput phenotyping methods are lacking. To help address this gap, the present research quantifies seed prebiotic carbohydrates (sugar alcohols, raffinose-family oligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides, and resistant starch) and protein quality traits (amino acids and in vitro protein digestibility) and calculates trait heritability estimates in a lentil diversity panel. Genome-wide association studies identify significantly associated SNP markers and candidate genes, while admixture analysis elucidates lentil ancestral subpopulations and their global distribution. Finally, the development of high-throughput Fourier-Transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) phenotyping methods promises to significantly reduce breeding operation costs in developed and developing countries alike. Thus, this research advances lentil nutritional breeding to aid in the development of new germplasm and varieties targeted for unique growing environments and consumer populations.

Author ORCID Identifier




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