The cool-season grain legume industry in Australia, comprising field pea (Pisum sativum L.), chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.), faba bean (Vicia faba L.), lentil (Lens culinaris ssp. culinaris Medik.), and narrow-leaf lupin (Lupinus angustifolius L.), has emerged in the last 40 years to occupy a significant place in cropping systems. The development of all major grain legume crops—including field pea, which has been grown for over 100 years—has been possible through large amounts of genetic resources acquired and utilised in breeding. Initially, several varieties were released directly from these imports, but the past 25 years of grain legume breeding has recombined traits for adaptation and yield for various growing regions. Many fungal disease threats have been addressed through resistant germplasm, with varying successes. Some threats, e.g. black spot in field pea caused by Mycosphaerella pinodes (Berk. and Blox.) Vestergr., require continued exploration of germplasm and new technology. The arrival of ascochyta blight in chickpea in Australia threatened to destroy the chickpea industry of southern Australia, but thanks to resistant germplasm, it is now on its way to recovery. Many abiotic stresses including drought, heat, salinity, and soil nutritional toxicities continue to challenge the expansion of the grain legume area, but recent research shows that genetic variation in the germplasm may offer new solutions. Just as the availability of genetic resources has been key to successfully addressing many challenges in the past two decades, so it will assist in the future, including adapting to climate change. The acquisition of grain legume germplasm from overseas is a direct result of several Australians who fostered collaborations leading to new collection missions enriching the germplasm base for posterity.
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Vol. 64 • No. 4