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Genomics assisted breeding for legume crops

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Legumes are one of the largest families of crop plants. Their unusual capacity for symbiotic nitrogen fixation underlies their importance as a source of protein in the human diet and of nitrogen in agricultural ecosystems. Legumes are also increasingly recognized as a source of valuable secondary metabolites. ...

Legumes are one of the largest families of crop plants. Their unusual capacity for symbiotic nitrogen fixation underlies their importance as a source of protein in the human diet and of nitrogen in agricultural ecosystems. Legumes are also increasingly recognized as a source of valuable secondary metabolites. Several large germplasm collections have been established, which contain large amounts of genetic diversity, including landrace varieties as well as the wild relatives and modern varieties no longer in use. These factors have allowed a significant increase in legume research over the past decade. Insufficient genetic and phenotypic information about most of varieties in gene banks make plant breeding inefficient. Nowadays, the availability of genomic tools and resources is leading to a new revolution of plant breeding, as they facilitate the study of the genotype and its relationship with the phenotype. Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies are allowing the mass sequencing of genomes and transcriptomes, which is producing a vast array of genomic information. NGS data can be further analyzed by bioinformatics tools leading to the discovery of new genes and regulatory sequences and their positions, and making available large collections of molecular markers. Re-sequencing of genomes also permit the genome-wide discovery of markers amenable for high-throughput genotyping platforms, like SSRs and SNPs, and the construction of high density genetic maps from which markers linked to genes and QTLs of agronomic interest can be identified. Genome-wide expression studies provide breeders a better understanding of the molecular basis of complex traits, as they usually show a multi-genic nature and an important environmental influence. Genomic approaches also include TILLING and EcoTILLING, which make possible to screen mutants and germplasm collections for allelic variants in target genes contributing to their functional analysis. Therefore, this topic aims to integrate the different genomic approaches in combination with the biological and agronomic information of importance in the legume species in order to provide with new tools and methodologies that allow a great leap forward in plant breeding.


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