Research Topic

Legumes for Global Food Security

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Humanity is facing many global challenges. These include 1) achieving food security for a rapidly growing population, 2) slowing the progression of climate change by reducing the production and release of greenhouse gases as consequence of human activity, and 3) meeting the increasing demand for clean energy ...

Humanity is facing many global challenges. These include 1) achieving food security for a rapidly growing population, 2) slowing the progression of climate change by reducing the production and release of greenhouse gases as consequence of human activity, and 3) meeting the increasing demand for clean energy that will not harm the environment.

In this regard, legumes deliver several important services to societies. Legumes provide a diverse range of food crops that are significant sources of plant-based proteins for humans globally. Grain legumes present outstanding nutritional and nutraceutical properties, while being an affordable food that contributes to achieving future global food and feed security in the context of an increasing world population.

Legumes also provide other crucial services to agriculture through their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen by rhizobial symbiosis. This supplies accessible nitrogen to agro-ecosystems, increases soil carbon content, stimulates the productivity of subsequent crops by increasing the effective capture, productive use and recycling of water and nutrients, and helping to control weeds.

Every day, legumes are being more considered to provide solutions to climate change, since 1) they promote an alternative to reliance on synthetic nitrogenous fertilizers whose manufacture involves intensive use of fossil fuels and whose breakdown products can cause eutrophication of water resources or are potent greenhouse gases (e.g. nitrous oxide); and, 2) they reduce fossil fuel use by providing feedstocks for biofuels and industrial uses. Legumes have evolved to adapt to every terrestrial environment. As such, they collectively hold the genetic diversity required to adapt to climatic stresses that are already becoming more frequent and extreme. Given time and resources, plant breeders can develop heat and drought tolerance to improve crop stability in vulnerable regions. Legumes can also act as biocontrol agents to fight pests and diseases that cause significant agro-industrial production losses, making them a central component of sustainable intensification efforts on millions of small and poor farms. Further, legume rotations or intercrops with grasses are an essential component of crop-livestock systems that enrich livestock diets, and create farming systems that are more sustainable than crop-only or livestock-only systems.

This Research Topic aims to collect work on the role of legumes in the development of more robust and efficient agro-ecosystems, promoting global food security. From this perspective, we welcome submissions of all types of articles to our journals Frontiers in Plant Science (for plant-related studies) and Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems (for studies addressing agricultural and sustainable aspects of legumes*) falling under, but not limited to, the following:

- Studies on genetics and translational genomics providing new physiological insights into legumes biology with the aim to understand complex traits in legumes.
- Studies aimed to understand mechanisms related to legume seed traits, and legume domestication and cultivation.
- Legume breeding for disease tolerance in order to improve global food security.
- Genetic engineering and other biotechnology approaches to advance legume productivity in sustainable agriculture.
- Legumes to deliver multiple ecosystem services from farming systems.
- Legumes research in the context of sustainable agriculture, food security, climate change and environmental stresses.

*Studies addressing agricultural and sustainable aspects of legumes research will be considered for review only in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.


Keywords: Legumes, Food Security, Legume breeding, Sustainable agriculture


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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