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The key to the future lies in the past: Insights from grain legume domestication and improvement should inform future breeding strategies

Bohra, A., Tiwari, A., Kaur, P., Ganie, S.A., Raza, A., Roorkiwal, M., Mir, R.R., Fernie, A.R., Smýkal, P. and Varshney, R.K.ORCID: 0000-0002-4562-9131 (2022) The key to the future lies in the past: Insights from grain legume domestication and improvement should inform future breeding strategies. Plant and Cell Physiology .

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Crop domestication is a co-evolutionary process that has rendered plants and animals significantly dependent on human interventions for survival and propagation. Grain legumes have played an important role in the development of Neolithic agriculture some 12,000 years ago. Despite being early companions of cereals in the origin and evolution of agriculture, the understanding of grain legume domestication has lagged behind that of cereals. Adapting plants for human use has resulted in distinct morpho-physiological changes between the wild ancestors and domesticates, and this distinction has been the focus of several studies aimed at understanding the domestication process and the genetic diversity bottlenecks created. Growing evidence from research on archeological remains, combined with genetic analysis and the geographical distribution of wild forms, has improved the resolution of the process of domestication, diversification and crop improvement. In this review, we summarize the significance of legume wild relatives as reservoirs of novel genetic variation for crop breeding programs. We describe key legume features, which evolved in response to anthropogenic activities. Here, we highlight how whole genome sequencing and incorporation of omics-level data have expanded our capacity to monitor the genetic changes accompanying these processes. Finally, we present our perspective on alternative routes centered on de novo domestication and re-domestication to impart significant agronomic advances of novel crops over existing commodities. A finely resolved domestication history of grain legumes will uncover future breeding targets to develop modern cultivars enriched with alleles that improve yield, quality and stress tolerance.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Crop and Food Innovation
Western Australian State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
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