Submitted to: Diversity Plant Genetic Resources Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 1, 1997
Publication Date: July 1, 1997
Citation: Morris, J.B. Legume genetic resources for special-purpose nutraceutical and pharmaceutical use. Diversity plant genetic resources journal 1997. Economic botany 51:251-263. Interpretive Summary: The use of plants as a source of nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products has exploded over the last 10 years. One only has to look at the shelves in health food stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and in store like Wal Mart and K mart to realize the tremendous current value and future potential of plants as sources of new foods, nutraceuticals, and medicines. .Plants as a source for nutraceuticals and pharmaceutical products is a million dollar industry. Thus, it is no wonder that in the last 5 years considerable attention has focused on the production of new, alternative crops as a source of high-value by-products for nutraceutical and pharmaceutical use.
Technical Abstract: The legume family Fabaceae has numerous taxa with tremendous potential for nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals that have only recently started to be investigated. This family is the third largest family of flowering plants with approximately 650 genera and nearly 20,000 species. Species in this family range from large tropical canopy trees to small herbs found in the temperate zones, humid tropics, arid zones, highlands, savannas, and lowlands. Legume seeds are the second most important source of human and animal food. Numerous species of legumes provide hope for combating food shortages in developing countries. They also provide many specialty products as rotenoids for potential use as antitumor drugs. Many new products from legumes are being discovered almost daily and include products such as L-Dopa from velvetbean (Mucuna pruriens), dietary fiber from guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba), and trigonelline from jackbean (Canavalia ensiformis). In addition, many legumes contain organic chemicals in sufficient quantity to be economic as a source of raw materials for many commercial applications in the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical arena.