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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Exploiting genetic and genomic resources to enhance productivity and abiotic stress adaptation of underutilized pulses

Dwivedi, Sangam L.; Chapman, Mark A.; Abberton, Michael T.; Akpojotor, Ufuoma Lydia; Ortiz, Rodomiro


Underutilized pulses and their wild relatives are typically stress tolerant and their seeds are packed with protein, fibers, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals. The consumption of such nutritionally dense legumes together with cereal-based food may promote global food and nutritional security. However, such species are deficient in a few or several desirable domestication traits thereby reducing their agronomic value, requiring further genetic enhancement for developing productive, nutritionally dense, and climate resilient cultivars. This review article considers 13 underutilized pulses and focuses on their germplasm holdings, diversity, crop-wild-crop gene flow, genome sequencing, syntenic relationships, the potential for breeding and transgenic manipulation, and the genetics of agronomic and stress tolerance traits. Recent progress has shown the potential for crop improvement and food security, for example, the genetic basis of stem determinacy and fragrance in moth bean and rice bean, multiple abiotic stress tolerant traits in horse gram and tepary bean, bruchid resistance in lima bean, low neurotoxin in grass pea, and photoperiod induced flowering and anthocyanin accumulation in adzuki bean have been investigated. Advances in introgression breeding to develop elite genetic stocks of grass pea with low beta-ODAP (neurotoxin compound), resistance to Mungbean yellow mosaic India virus in black gram using rice bean, and abiotic stress adaptation in common bean, using genes from tepary bean have been carried out. This highlights their potential in wider breeding programs to introduce such traits in locally adapted cultivars. The potential of de-domestication or feralization in the evolution of new variants in these crops are also highlighted.


diversity assessment; gene flow; genes; introgression; nutrition; Orphan legumes; phenomics; quantitative trait loci

Published in

Frontiers in Genetics
2023, Volume: 14, article number: 1193780

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG3 Good health and well-being
    SDG2 Zero hunger

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Genetics and Breeding
    Agricultural Science

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