Research Topic

Orphan Plant Species for Food Security and Nutrition: Successes, Challenges, and a Way Forward

About this Research Topic

Orphan crops, also referred to as neglected and underutilized species, together with their wild crop relatives, contribute to more than 90% of the global diet. Orphan crops are recognized as nutrient-rich crops that have adapted to their harsh growing environment where production is limited. At the same time, research on agronomic husbandry as well as conventional and genomic breeding are scarce. Very few researchers are trained to handle these crops that, by-and-large, include small grains cereals (e.g. tef, fonio millets), pulses (e.g. Kersting’s groundnut, Bambara groundnut), indigenous fruits (e.g. wild custard apple, miracle berry), leafy vegetables (e.g. Spider-plant, amaranth), nutraceutical plants (e.g. bitter gourd, bitterleaf), aromatic plants (e.g. African basil, lemongrass), and nuts (e.g. butter fruit tree, sweet bush mango). This incredible diversity of plant resources is of great value to humankind. However, the lack of knowledge and genomic resources on orphan crops jeopardizes their sustainable conservation and utilization for improving food and nutrition security.

With the increasing demographic pressure and the growingly evident loss of plant genetic resources worldwide, it has become increasingly urgent to promote the sustainable conservation and utilization of useful food plants. This can be achieved through the characterization and evaluation of genetic diversity, best cultivation practices implementation, seed ecology analysis and seed system development, and conventional and markers assisted breeding. With the recent development of genomic technologies (e.g. markers assisted selection, genomic selection), the production of a draft genome of economically important orphan crops and their wild relatives have the potential to be accelerated.

Submission to this Research Topic should be solely related to orphan crops and wild relatives and address themes such as:
• Quantitative analysis of agronomic and nutrient traits;
• Genome-wide association traits;
• Markers assisted breeding;
• Genomic selection for yield and yield components;
• Nutrients and related traits;
• Seed ecology and seed systems development;
• Conservation and utilization of food plant genetic resources.


Keywords: Orphan crops, crop wild relatives, markers assisted breeding, genomics, nutrient content, yield and yield components, food and nutrition security


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Orphan crops, also referred to as neglected and underutilized species, together with their wild crop relatives, contribute to more than 90% of the global diet. Orphan crops are recognized as nutrient-rich crops that have adapted to their harsh growing environment where production is limited. At the same time, research on agronomic husbandry as well as conventional and genomic breeding are scarce. Very few researchers are trained to handle these crops that, by-and-large, include small grains cereals (e.g. tef, fonio millets), pulses (e.g. Kersting’s groundnut, Bambara groundnut), indigenous fruits (e.g. wild custard apple, miracle berry), leafy vegetables (e.g. Spider-plant, amaranth), nutraceutical plants (e.g. bitter gourd, bitterleaf), aromatic plants (e.g. African basil, lemongrass), and nuts (e.g. butter fruit tree, sweet bush mango). This incredible diversity of plant resources is of great value to humankind. However, the lack of knowledge and genomic resources on orphan crops jeopardizes their sustainable conservation and utilization for improving food and nutrition security.

With the increasing demographic pressure and the growingly evident loss of plant genetic resources worldwide, it has become increasingly urgent to promote the sustainable conservation and utilization of useful food plants. This can be achieved through the characterization and evaluation of genetic diversity, best cultivation practices implementation, seed ecology analysis and seed system development, and conventional and markers assisted breeding. With the recent development of genomic technologies (e.g. markers assisted selection, genomic selection), the production of a draft genome of economically important orphan crops and their wild relatives have the potential to be accelerated.

Submission to this Research Topic should be solely related to orphan crops and wild relatives and address themes such as:
• Quantitative analysis of agronomic and nutrient traits;
• Genome-wide association traits;
• Markers assisted breeding;
• Genomic selection for yield and yield components;
• Nutrients and related traits;
• Seed ecology and seed systems development;
• Conservation and utilization of food plant genetic resources.


Keywords: Orphan crops, crop wild relatives, markers assisted breeding, genomics, nutrient content, yield and yield components, food and nutrition security


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

23 March 2021 Manuscript
23 April 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

23 March 2021 Manuscript
23 April 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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