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Chairholder Profile

Albert Vandenberg

Albert Vandenberg

Department of Plant Sciences
University of Saskatchewan

Chair Title

NSERC-Saskatchewan Pulse Growers Industrial Research Chair in Genetic Improvement of Lentil

Chair Program

Industrial Research Chairs Program

Role

Senior Chairholder since 2010

Summary

The research program is designed to explore ways and means of genetically improving the lentil, one of Canada's more recently developed crops. The lentil crop is important to Canadian agriculture because it a nitrogen-fixing legume and it fits well ecologically and economically into prairie agricultural systems. Canada is the world's leading producer and exporter of lentils, a nutritious whole food that is increasing in popularity around the world. Dr. Vandenberg has been active in all aspects of the lentil industry, and leads the world's most successful lentil genetic improvement program. He has a wealth of experience in plant breeding, applied genetic research and market development through his extensive network of contacts in academia and the private sector. His varieties produce more than 30 percent of the world's supply of lentils. Canada has emerged as the world's largest producer and exporter of lentils.

The three main areas of the research program are studying the genetics of disease resistance for lentils, investigating the genetics of nutritional profiles of lentils, and applying genetic knowledge to plant breeding through the use of new genotyping technologies. Improved disease resistance will help maintain the economic prosperity of Canadian lentil production and reduce the use of pesticides. Research of genetic improvement strategies for nutritional components in lentils will ensure that Canadians and global consumers have access to better whole food products like lentils. Application of new genotyping technologies will help improve the rate of genetic gain of Canadian lentil crops.

The Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, with more than 18,000 producer members, is the primary investor and commercial partner for development of improved lentil varieties. Their levy on lentil sales provides the key private-sector investment for the Industrial Research Chair. Genetic improvement of lentils through better disease resistance and nutritional profiles, combined with low-cost genotyping, will allow Saskatchewan Pulse Growers to have access to designer lentil varieties that can be tailored to specific consumer demands around the world. Canada exports lentils to more than 100 countries that have specific requirements for culinary characteristics. Expansion of the lentil industry will provide significant economic benefits in the form of increase rural business activity in western Canada. Environmental benefits of an expanded lentil cropping area will also accrue in the form of reduced carbon emissions because lentils are nitrogen-fixing legumes that provides substantial fertility benefits in traditional crop production systems of the Prairies.

Contact Information

Department of Plant Sciences
University of Saskatchewan
Agriculture Bldg RM 2C24
51 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7N 5A8

Tel.: 306-966-8786
Fax: 306-966-5015
Email: bert.vandenberg@usask.ca