The Lupin Family

All lupins belong to a single legume genus, Lupinus. There are an estimated 267 species of lupin1 distributed around the Mediterranean region (‘Old World’ lupins) and North & South America (‘New World’ lupins). Lupin species are particularly diverse in the Andes where they have among the highest speciation rates known for any plant species2.

Lupinus belongs to a class of legume known as Genistoids, which are believed to have diverged early in the evolution of Papilionoid legumes. This may explain why lupin genomes appear to be highly rearranged in comparison to other legume genomes3-6. This makes lupin genomes particularly interesting in legume genome evolution research.


Figure 1. Simplified schematic tree of legume family (adapted from Gepts et al 2005, Plant Physiology 137,1228-1235). The three subfamilies (Caesalpinioideae, Mimosoideae, and Papilionoideae) and major subclades identified by recent molecular phylogenetic studies are shown in boldface and their positions are indicated by black circles.

1. Drummond CS, Eastwood RJ, Miotto STS, Hughes CE (2012) Multiple continental radiations and correlates of diversification in Lupinus (Leguminosae): Testing for key innovation with incomplete taxon sampling. Systematic Biology 61, 443-460.
2. Hughes C, Eastwood R (2006) Island radiation on a continental scale: Exceptional rates of plant diversification after uplift of the Andes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 103, 10334-10339.
3. Nelson MN et al. (2006) The first gene-based map of Lupinus angustifolius L.- Location of domestication genes and conserved synteny with Medicago truncatula. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 113, 225-238.
4. Phan HTT et al. (2007) The first genetic and comparative map of white lupin (Lupinus albus L.): Identification of QTLs for anthracnose resistance and flowering time, and a locus for alkaloid content. DNA Research 14, 59-70.
5. Nelson MN et al. (2010) Aligning a new reference genetic map of Lupinus angustifolius with the genome sequence of the model legume, Lotus japonicus. DNA Research 17, 73-83.
6. Gepts P et al. (2005) Legumes as a model plant family. Genomics for food and feed report of the cross-legume advances through genomics conference Plant Physiology 137, 1228-1235.