The Use of Lupin as a Source of Protein in Animal Feeding: Genomic Tools and Breeding Approaches

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Feb 15;20(4):851. doi: 10.3390/ijms20040851.


Livestock production in the European Union EU is highly dependent on imported soybean, exposing the livestock farming system to risks related to the global trade of soybean. Lupin species could be a realistic sustainable alternative source of protein for animal feeding. Lupinus is a very diverse genus with many species. However, only four of them-namely, L. albus, L. angustifolius, L. luteus and L. mutabilis-are cultivated. Their use in livestock farming systems has many advantages in relation to economic and environmental impact. Generally, lupin grains are characterized by high protein content, while their oil content is relatively low but of high quality. On the other hand, the presence of quinolizidine alkaloids and their specific carbohydrate composition are the main antinutritional factors that prevent their use in animal feeding. This research is mainly related to L. albus and to L. angustifolius, and to a lesser extent, to L. lauteus and L. mutabilis. The breeding efforts are mostly focused on yield stabilization, resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, biochemical structure associated with seed quality and late maturing. Progress is made in improving lupin with respect to the seed quality, as well as the tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress. It has to be noted that modern cultivars, mostly of L. albus and L. angustifolius, contain low levels of alkaloids. However, for future breeding efforts, the implementation of marker-assisted selection and the available genomic tools is of great importance.

Keywords: animal nutrition; breeding; genomics era; lupin; molecular markers; variety development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animals
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Lupinus / growth & development
  • Lupinus / metabolism*
  • Plant Breeding*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Stress, Physiological


  • Plant Proteins