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Sustainability beleafs

Narrow-leafed lupin (NLL; Lupinus angustifolius) is a key rotational crop for sustainable farming systems, whose grain is high in protein content. It is a gluten-free, non-GM, alternative protein source to soybean and as such has gained an interest as a human food ingredient.

Photo Description –Narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) cultivar Coyote in a field near Northam in 2021. Photo Credits and acknowledgements – Lars Kamphuis

NLL is a grain legume grown as a break crop in rotation with cereal crops, thereby reducing the need for fertilizers, increasing cereal yields and importantly providing disease breaks. NLL and other lupins thrive on nutrient poor soils due to their symbiosis with beneficial bacteria to fix atmospheric nitrogen and to efficiently mobilize phosphorus from soils.

NLL is a relatively young pulse crop, having only begun the process of domestication in the early 20th Century in Germany, which was concluded by the release of the first fully domesticated cultivar with low alkaloid content, permeable seeds, early flowering and non-shattering pods in the 1960s in Australia. To date four lupin species have been domesticated, including white lupin, yellow lupin, pearl lupin and NLL, with NLL being the predominant lupin grown worldwide (85% of all lupins).

The lupin grain is mainly used for animal and aquaculture feed, but in recent years has gained interest as a human health food and food additive. This is because lupin grain is rich in protein (30-40% of whole seeds), has low amounts of undesired starch compared to other pulses, is high in dietary fibre (25-30%), low in fat and carbohydrates and gluten-free. In human food products, lupin kernel flour is predominantly used as a food additive in bread and pasta and has been shown to reduce insulin resistance. It’s attractiveness as a gluten free, non-GM alternative to soybean has resulted in the production of a series of lupin-based gluten-free foods including pasta and meat replacement products for the vegetarian and vegan markets. Furthermore, specific lupin seed proteins have been demonstrated to reduce glycaemia to comparable levels as achieved with the predominately used hypoglycaemic drug metformin, and have additional nutraceutical properties, for example, that improve inflammatory related diseases, as well as anti-microbial properties.

Here we report a chromosome-length reference genome for NLL which was generated using ~98.5x coverage PacBio long read sequence data, assembled with CANU, and scaffolded using ~ 50x in situ Hi-C sequencing. The interactive contact map of the NLL’s chromosomes is included below.

This data provides a much-needed foundational resource that supports functional and molecular research into the Leguminosae for sustainable agriculture and feeding the future. More details are available in the research article “A pan-genome and chromosome-length reference genome of narrow-leafed lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) reveals genomic diversity and insights into key industry and biological traits”, read now in The Plant Journal, here!

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