EUROLEGUME (Enhancing of legumes growing in Europe through sustainable cropping for protein supply for food and feed) is an international research project funded by the 7th Research Framework Programme of the European Union.
In agreement with the tight relation between genotype and environment, rootsystem architecture (RSA) and development has received an increased amount of attention due to advances in phenotyping capabilities. However, low focus on belowground characteristics of leguminous plants in plant breeding and alimited number of high-yielding cultivars with good resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses has been obtained. Currently, broad diversity of Rhizobia andarbuscular mycorhizal fungi is referred, although there is a lack of genotypic evaluation as well as of efficiency of particular strains in biological nitrogen fixation in diverse agro-ecological conditions. This situation has allowed to develop a research project aimed to deliver an updated biochemical, nutritional and morphological description of valuables genotypes, as well as biological methods to enhance the nutritive value of the residual biomass and the development of new feed and food products. New formulations for microbial inoculants, nitrogen availability to crops and elaborated growing technologies for sustainable use of legumes will be also assessed.
The relevance of the present venture is based on the role of legumes in the human diet and nutrition of animals and farming systems, which is increasingly important. Nowadays, a significant number of accessions of localpea, faba bean and cowpea germplasm are available across the Europe, even though the collections are not fully evaluated in terms of geno- and phenotyping as well as concerning their nutritional value. National traditions and climate conditions are influencing legume crop consumption and cultivation and there are available local genotypes not collected, evaluated and included in breeding programmes.
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