Pulse Breeding and Genetics Research laboratory

Welcome to the Pulse Breeding and Genetics Lab in the Department of Plant Science at McGill University.

My research group is built on the idea that the world can be made a better place through science and technology. Plant breeders contribute towards that goal by solving problems and driving agricultural production forward.

What is our "why"?:

We are driven by the idea that education and passion lifts people to their fullest potential, and plant breeding research and innovation is a major way of delivering prosperity and sustainability to rural and urban communities alike.

We work in pulse legumes because they are a resource-efficient and dense source of protein, energy and nutrients. They are a delicious component to a multitude of diets around the world and provide health benefits to over 1 billion humans. In the case of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) in certain countries, pulses provide 45% of daily protein supply in children and 13% in adults. Also, they provide micro nutrients such as vitamin A, iron and zinc which play a major role among children in the alleviation of anemia, general body morbidity and mortality, mental impairment, still births or low child birth weight, blindness and infant mortality.

Our lab focuses on the development of superior cultivars of edible pulses, such as common bean, chickpea, lentils and peas under sustainable production systems. We make use of the information generated in the field to formulate new research ideas that ultimately provide solutions to the problems of Canadian and world pulse growers while generating new knowledge.

Our research topics focus on breeding, genetics and genomics, germplasm exploration, quantitative genetics, abiotic stress tolerance, disease resistance, quality, agronomic performance, human nutrition and sensory profile. We also work in the development of high-throughput phenotyping tools for plant breeding applications.

Our vision

To make Quebec a leading province in production, processing quality and consumer preference of dry beans and pulses.

Our goals:

  • Release pulse varieties for farmers, processors and end-users
  • Increase consumption of pulses by improving consumer driven quality traits
  • Generate new genetic variation and exchange with the pulse breeding community
  • Perform agronomic research on the optimal utilization of the varieties developed
  • Implement emerging technologies into agricultural systems
  • Offer thought leadership to improve agriculture in Quebec and Canada
  • Collaborate with the private and public sectors to increase agricultural productivity and sustainability
  • Collaborate with international partners to improve pulse production around the world
  • Train new plant breeder scientists from around the world

Principal Investigator

Valerio Hoyos-Villegas, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Science

McGill University


valerio.hoyos-villegas at mcgill.ca

tel: 514-398-7856

office: Raymond R02-21b

lab: Raymond R2-004 east