Location: Corn Insects and Crop Genetics ResearchTitle: Legumes as a Model Plant Family Author
Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/31/2011
Publication Date: 12/1/2011
Citation: Cannon, S.B., Sato, S., Tabata, S., Young, N.D., May, G.D. 2011. Legumes as a Model Plant Family. In: Pratap, A., Kumar, J., editors. Biology and Breeding of Food Legumes. Cambridge, MA. CABI. p. 348-357. Interpretive Summary: This review describes the basic characteristics of the sequenced legume genomes, and highlights examples, opportunities, and challenges for translational genomics across the legumes. The impact of these assembled, annotated genomes will be enormous. L. japonicus and M. truncatula, both forage crops, are also used as models for laboratory plants used in legume research. Monetarily, soybean is the most valuable protein and edible oil crop in the world, and serves as a model for seed development and other traits. These genome sequences contain the vast majorities of gene and regulatory sequences for these plants, as well as information about evolutionary histories over the approximately 54 million years since their common ancestor. These genome sequences are all the more useful because we can compare the genomes, and can transfer information from them to other crop species and vice versa. This chapter reviews progress in legume genomics, and evaluates conditions for rapid crop improvement in both high-production crops such as soybean, and numerous forage and seed crops that are important in local areas or for particular ecological conditions.
Technical Abstract: The human population derives the majority of its nutrition either directly or indirectly (via animal protein) from two plant families: the grasses and the legumes. Grain legumes alone supply approximately 33% of human protein nutrition. Thus, it is critical for genetic improvement of legume crop species that we make good use of information in this plant family. To what extent can research on numerous individual species in the legumes be combined and integrated across the legume family? To what extent can any given legume species be used as a model for other legume species? This chapter reviews progress in legume genomics, and evaluates conditions for rapid crop improvement in both high-production crops such as soybean, and numerous forage and seed crops that are important in local areas or for particular ecological conditions. High conservation of gene order in several lineages of the legumes will facilitate translation of research between crops -- as illustrated by examples from recent literature. Several technologies are described that may speed progress in development of new crop legumes; these include new transformation methods, and more comprehensive bioinformatic systems for comparing and relating the genomic information across various crop and model species.