Seed size variation in chickpea and lentil

Seed size is highly variable in most agricultural crops and affects crop productivity and quality.

A large, uniform grain size must be achieved to meet the highest-value market specifications for chickpea, lentil field pea and faba bean. Additionally, seed size is considered to influence several early crop growth traits including seedling emergence, seedling vigour, and inter- and intra-specific competitive ability.

We have identified a gene that regulates the size of seeds in chickpeas, and developed pairs of near-isogenic lines (NILs) contrasting for this gene and the seed size trait. NILs are particularly useful research tools, allowing detailed exploration of a phenotype of interest against common genetic backgrounds. In this project, you will use our chickpea NIL material to explore the role of seed size in early seedling emergence and growth. You will also explore the seed size trait in lentil. There will be an opportunity to develop and implement skills in molecular biology (primer design, DNA extractions, PCR, sequence analysis) to search for variation in the lentil orthologue of the chickpea seed size gene, and to determine if this gene contributes to the diversity in seed size found in Australian lentil varieties.

This project would suit a highly motivated student with an interest in the application of molecular genetics to Australian agriculture. A willingness to learn, initiative, engagement and scientific rigour are all essential skills! We are a team comprised of staff from both the University and from SARDI, and you will be exposed to a diverse range of researchers and activities undertaken at Waite. 


  • Dr Lachlan Lake is a crop eco-physiologist specialising in the adaptation and agronomy of the major Australian pulse crops at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). He has previously worked at CSIRO and is an affiliate lecturer at the University of Adelaide. Dr Lake has a network of national and international collaborators, a strong publication record and is currently working on two national GRDC funded projects with the aim of improving our understanding of the genetic basis of pulse phenology and improving local agronomic management practices. Lachlan’s other research interests include crop modelling, capture and efficiency in the use of water and nutrients in dryland systems and adaptation of pulses to abiotic stresses.
  • Dr Mariano Cossani is a Senior Research Agronomist at SARDI and Affiliate Senior Lecturer with the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. He has interest in crop physiology applied to plant breeding and crop management with focus on adaptation to abiotic stress and in the development of phenotyping methods.
  • Dr Julie Hayes is a Research Associate with the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. Julie has a background in molecular genetics and physiology of crop and pasture plants, particularly relating to plant nutrition and nutritional stress. 

Further information

This project may be eligible for a $5000 student scholarship. Please contact the project supervisors for details and to express your interest.

Tagged in Honours projects - Agricultural science, Honours projects - Plant science