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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Perennials as Future Grain Crops: Opportunities and Challenges

Chapman, Elizabeth A.; Thomsen, Hanne Cecilie; Tulloch, Sophia; Correia, Pedro M. P.; Luo, Guangbin; Najafi, Javad; DeHaan, Lee R.; Crews, Timothy E.; Olsson, Lennart; Lundquist, Per-Olof; Westerbergh, Anna; Pedas, Pai Rosager; Knudsen, Soren; Palmgren, Michael


Perennial grain crops could make a valuable addition to sustainable agriculture, potentially even as an alternative to their annual counterparts. The ability of perennials to grow year after year significantly reduces the number of agricultural inputs required, in terms of both planting and weed control, while reduced tillage improves soil health and on-farm biodiversity. Presently, perennial grain crops are not grown at large scale, mainly due to their early stages of domestication and current low yields. Narrowing the yield gap between perennial and annual grain crops will depend on characterizing differences in their life cycles, resource allocation, and reproductive strategies and understanding the trade-offs between annualism, perennialism, and yield. The genetic and biochemical pathways controlling plant growth, physiology, and senescence should be analyzed in perennial crop plants. This information could then be used to facilitate tailored genetic improvement of selected perennial grain crops to improve agronomic traits and enhance yield, while maintaining the benefits associated with perennialism.


breeding; domestication; genome editing; grain crops; perennialism; species-wide hybridization; perennial grains; perennial agriculture

Published in

Frontiers in Plant Science
2022, volume: 13, article number: 898769

Authors' information

Chapman, Elizabeth
Carlsberg Laboratory
Thomsen, Hanne Cecilie
Carlsberg Laboratory
Tulloch, Sophia
Carlsberg Laboratory
Correia, Pedro M. P.
University of Copenhagen
Luo, Guangbin
University of Copenhagen
Najafi, Javad
University of Copenhagen
DeHaan, Lee R.
Land Inst
Crews, Timothy E.
The Land Institute
Olsson, Lennart
Lund University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Biology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Biology
Rosager Pedas, Pai
Carlsberg Laboratory
Knudsen, Søren
Carlsberg Laboratory
Palmgren, Michael
Carlsberg Laboratory

Associated SLU-program

SLU Network Plant Protection

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG2 Zero hunger

UKÄ Subject classification

Agricultural Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)