Regeneration guidelines for lentil

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The information on this page was extracted from:
Street K., Rukhkyan N. and Ismail A. 2008. Regeneration guidelines: lentil. In: Dulloo M.E., Thormann I., Jorge M.A. and Hanson J., editors. Crop specific regeneration guidelines [CD-ROM]. CGIAR System-wide Genetic Resource Programme, Rome, Italy. 9 pp.

Before reading the regeneration details for this crop, read the general introduction that gives general guidelines to follow by clicking here.


Lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) is a legume that has been grown in the Mediterranean region since ancient times. The Fertile Crescent or west Asia is recognized as the centre of its domestication and diversity, where it is still an important winter-sown crop. It has now spread throughout Eurasia where it is grown mostly in the southern latitudes on calcareous soil types. The lentil plant is a dwarf (20–50 cm), bushy annual with weakly upright to semi-vine growth, with similar appearance to the vetch plant. Lentil has a restricted root system, tending to lodge at maturity because of its weak stem. It has many soft, hairy branches with pinnately compound leaves and numerous oval leaflets. Flowers are white, lilac or pale blue. The broad, smooth pods range from 8 to 40 mm long and 6 to 15 mm wide. Each pod bears 1–2 seeds which are thin and lens-shaped; colour ranges from brown to yellow to various mottled patterns. The weight of 100 seeds ranges from 1.5 to 8.0 g.
The genus Lens belongs to the Fabaceae family and includes the cultivated L. culinaris Medik. subsp. culinaris and wild subspecies L. culinaris subsp. orientalis (Boiss.) Ponert, the progenitor L. culinaris subsp. tomentosus Ladiz. and L. culinaris subsp. odemensis Ladiz., along with three wild species. The taxa within culinaris are in the primary gene pool, while L. ervoides (Brign.) Grande, L. nigricans (Bieb.) Godr. and L. lamottei Czefr. are in the secondary– tertiary gene pool. The taxonomy of Lens, however, remains in debate. All Lens species are self-pollinating annual diploids (2n=14). Two main groups of domesticated lentils are recognized on the basis of seed size: i) microsperma and ii) macrosperma.

This guideline applies to genebank accessions of lentil including breeding material, pure lines, landrace populations and populations of wild relatives.

Cultivated lentil (Lens culinaris)

Lentil plant. (photo: ICARDA)

Choice of environment and planting season

Climatic conditions

Planting season

Preparation for regeneration

When to regenerate

Preparing seed for planting

1. After receiving accessions from the genebank, divide the seeds of each accession into four subsets of 200 seeds each. Each subset wil be planted in a 4-m-long row.

2. Prepare a packet for each subset of seed and write the genebank accession number on it.

3. Treat seeds with appropriate fungicide and insecticide.

4. Place each subset of seed in a labeled packet with the original genebank-labeled packet on top and additional packets underneath. Staple the packets together.

Field selection and preparation

Planting layout for lentil regeneration. (photo: ICARDA)

Rescue regeneration of lentil using pots. (photo: ICARDA)

Method of regeneration

Planting layout, density and distance

Sowing method


Crop management

Weed management



Common pests and diseases

Contact plant health experts to identify symptoms of the likely pests and diseases and the appropriate control measures. Common pests and diseases for lentils include:



Pest and disease control

Lentil ready for harvest. (photo: ICARDA)

Pollination and pollinator behaviour


Post-harvest management

After mechanical cleaning, seeds are further cleaned by hand to remove any remaining debris. Seeds are inspected with the naked eye or under a binocular microscope for mechanical damage and empty seeds. (photo: ICARDA)

1. Clean seeds of debris using a seed cleaning machine (mechanical sieve type) directly after harvest in a way that causes least damage to the sample. Alternatively, hand-clean or sort with appropriate sieves.

2. Meticulously clean seed cleaner between each accession.

3. Clean seeds of remaining debris by hand (see photo).

4. If signs of insect attack are detected, fumigate the harvested seeds with an appropriate insecticide. This is, however, not general y recommended, especial y for long-term storage.

5. Determine total weight of cleaned seeds.

6. Determine 100-seed weight (ranges from 1.5 to 8.0 g).

7. Dry accessions by placing seed in low humidity, room temperature environment for up to 3 weeks. If using a control ed seed drying room, dry at 15°C and 15% RH. If a drying room is not available, dry seeds to a moisture content of 3–7% with silica gel or another appropriate desiccant.

8. Determine moisture content—it should be 3–7% for storage.

9. Send a subsample of each accession for viability testing.

10. Process the material for storage.

Monitoring accession identity

Maintaining the correct identity of accessions

Throughout the process of regeneration from seed preparation to post harvest, take extreme care to ensure that the seeds for a given accession remain with the correct identity number. Always label packets of seeds, plots and harvested material with the appropriate ID number in such a way that there can be no chance of mixing up or losing the identity of the accession.

Maintaining population integrity

When conserving accessions of genetically diverse populations, it is important to maintain adequate amount of seed to maximize the diversity of the sample (minimum 1000 seeds). When regenerating such accessions, it is equally important to plant an adequate amount of seed to capture the original variation in the population so that genetic drift does not occur within the population (see introductory chapter).

Comparisons with previous passport or morphological data

Compare each accession with the following characterization data previously recorded for the accession:

If the identity of the accession is in doubt, check it against its herbarium voucher specimen. Discard the accession if its identity is not the same as the original accession.

Wild lentil

Scarifying seeds by making a small cut in the seed coat to improve water absorption and germination. (photo: ICARDA)


Lens ervoides (Brign.) Grande, L. lamottei Czefr., L. nigricans (M. Bieb.) Godr, L. culinaris subsp. orientalis (Boiss.) Ponert, L. culinaris subsp. tomentosus Ladiz., L. culinaris subsp. odemensis Ladiz.

Planting and growth conditions

Grow accessions in plastic pots under greenhouse conditions using the following procedure:
1. Fil smal pots (earthen or plastic pots, 30 cm diameter x 30 cm deep) with an autoclaved mixture of 3:1 soil and sand.

2. Scarify the seeds by making a smal cut in the seed coat to improve water absorption and germination (see photo).

3. Dress the seeds with fungicides and insecticides.

4. Sow at least 50 seeds per accession, with two seeds per pot at a depth of 2 cm.

5. Water the pots immediately after sowing and then every 5–6 days.

6. Starting from flowering, validate each accession against what is recorded in the database for the fol owing characters:

7. If the identity of the accession is in doubt, check it against its herbarium voucher specimen and discard it if it is not the same as the original accession.

8. At the beginning of seed maturity, cover each plant with a light mesh bag and tie it off at the base of the plant.

9. Once the plant is ful y matured, harvest the whole plant intact with the cloth bag.

10. Extract the seeds from the dry plant material.

11. Bulk seeds from single plants of the same accession.

12. Weigh the yield of seeds from each accession.

13. Determine 100-seed weight for each accession.

14. Dry seeds by placing them in a low humidity, room temperature environment for up to 3 weeks.

15. Determine moisture content—it should be 3–7% for storage.

16. Send a subsample of each accession for viability testing.

17. Process the material for storage.

Documentation of information during regeneration

Collect the following information during regeneration and record it in the genebank information system:

References and further reading

Barulina H. 1930. Lentils of the USSR and other countries. Bulletin of Applied Botany, Genetics and Plant Breeding 40(Suppl): 265–304.

Bioversity International, ICARDA, NBPGR. 2010. Key access and utilization descriptors for lentil genetic resources. Bioversity International, Rome, Italy; International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Syria; National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, India. Available here.

Ladizinsky G, Braun D, Goshen D, Muehlbauer FJ. 1984. The biological species of the genus Lens L. Botanical Gazette 145(2): 253–261.

Ladizinsky G. 1993. Wild lentils. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 12(3): 169–184.


These guidelines have been peer reviewed by María José Suso, Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible (CSIC), Spain; Margarita Vishnyakova, Department of Leguminous Crops, N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR), Russia; and S.S. Yadav, former Principal Legume Breeder, Division of Genetics, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, India.

The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.