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Novel opportunities for legume breeding offered by crop improvement research

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Slides presented during "How legume science is enabling industry "

Webinar 6: European legumes in transition 4th May 2021

"Novel opportunities for legume breeding offered by crop improvement research"

Presented by :  Dr Paolo Annicchiarico - Research Director - Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA)

The EU requirement for legume-based proteins, driven by feed protein needs and increasing demand for plant-based protein foods, is huge and relies heavily on imported legumes (mostly soybean). This is mainly due to the large profitability gap of EU-produced legumes relative to cereals. Reducing this gap is challenging, because the large number of grain and forage legume crops and the modest cropping of nearly each crop in the EU discourage substantial investments by private breeders in these crops. As a result, public research institutions are crucial not only for crop improvement research and pre-breeding, but also for selection of improved varieties to be licenced to seed companies for marketing. This presentation provides examples of recent research findings that are being implemented in public breeding programs in different countries, with the aim to select grain or forage legume varieties with greater resilience against climatic or biotic stresses and greater crop quality. They encompass the molecular marker- or genome-enabled improvement of common bean for resistance to fusarium wilt, pea for greater resistance to broomrape, powdery mildew and seed-borne mosaic virus, low-phytate pea varieties featuring greater iron bioavailability and reduced environmental pollution by phosphorus, alfalfa with improved biomass and forage quality, and pea or white lupin with greater tolerance to drought. 

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