Lentil (Lens culinaris ssp. culinaris Medikus) is a diploid (2n=2X=14) self-pollinating crop with a genome size of approximately 4 Gbp (Arumuganathan and Earle, 1991). It provides affordable source of dietary proteins (22-35%), minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates to poor people and plays a vital role in alleviating malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries. As it exhibits low glycemic index, it is highly recommended by physicians for the people suffering from diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases (Srivastava and Vasishtha, 2012). In fact, vegetable protein is gaining preference over the animal protein for consumption by the health conscious people in the present day. This could be one of
the reasons for increased per capita consumption (Vandenberg, 2009) and fivefold increase in global lentil production (from 0.85 to 4.43 Mt) during the last five decades, through a 155% increase in sown area and the doubling of average yields from 528 to 1068 kg ha-1 (FAOSTAT, 2014). Lentil cultivation often provides rotational benefits to cereal-based cropping systems through biological nitrogen fixation, carbon sequestration, and through effective control of weeds, diseases, and insect pests. It generates livelihood for the small-scale farmers practicing agriculture in the dryland agricultural ecosystems of South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia, and North Africa (Kumar et al., 2013). However, the lentil yields remain low in many developing countries as it is often cultivated as a rainfed crop under difficult edaphic conditions and subjected to terminal drought, heat stress, low soil fertility, and various diseases including ascochyta blight (Ascochyta lentis), fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lentis), anthracnose (Colletotrichum truncatum), stemphylium blight (Stemphylium botryosum), rust (Uromyces viciae-fabae), collar rot (Sclerotiun rolfsii), root rot (Rhizoctonia solani), and white mold (Sclerotinia sclerotiorum) (Kumar et al., 2013; Sharpe et al., 2013). So far, the classical plant breeding approach of selection-recombination-selection has been successful in mainstreaming some of the easy-to-manage monogenic traits in lentil. However, this approach is less precise and time consuming when dealing with traits of breeders’ interest which are often quantitative in nature and highly influenced by environment and genotype-environment (GE) interaction (Kumar and Ali, 2006). In order to identify, fix, and select superior recombinants more precisely and efficiently, there is a need to integrate biotechnological approaches such as marker assisted selection (MAS) and genetic engineering in lentil breeding program to mainstream new genetic variability in the cultivated gene pool.