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Special Issue "Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture, Food and Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 February 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Timothy E. Crews

The Land Institute, Salina, KS, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 785-823-5376
Interests: perennial agriculture; intercropping; nutrient cycling
Guest Editor
Dr. Douglas J. Cattani

Department of Plant Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 204-474-6071
Interests: perennial grain breeding; companion crop development; polyculture design

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The development of new perennial crop species is gaining momentum as a promising approach to change the fundamental nature of ecosystem processes in agriculture. Numerous papers have been published over the last decade, describing predicted improvements in soil carbon balance, nutrient retention, soil water uptake efficiency, soil microbiome functions and weed suppression, as annual crops that required soil disturbance and/or frequent exposure to maintain are replaced by perennial crops that require minimal soil disturbance or periods of exposure. Other papers have addressed questions of why humans originally domesticated annual grain crops, and what strategies make sense for domesticating new perennial grain crop species. Relatively few papers, however, have been published that provide current overviews of progress in breeding specific perennial crops. Every new crop species is unique in where it is situated in the breeding pipeline, the nature of genetic challenges it faces, the traits that require breeding attention, and the progress made in breeding improvements to date. This Special Issue of Sustainability will be dedicated to providing up-to-date reports on many works in progress; what lessons have been learned, and how strategies to breed perennial grain crops have been reinforced or modified based on experience to date.

Prof. Timothy E. Crews
Dr. Douglas J. Cattani
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Domestication

  • Disease

  • Genomic

  • Marker assisted

  • Selection

  • Soil microbiome

  • Wide hybridization

  • Yield stability

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessEditorial Strategies, Advances, and Challenges in Breeding Perennial Grain Crops
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2192; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072192
Received: 14 June 2018 / Accepted: 16 June 2018 / Published: 27 June 2018
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Abstract
The development of new perennial crop species is gaining momentum as a promising approach to change the fundamental nature of ecosystem processes in agriculture. The ecological argument for perennial crops grown in polycultures is strong, but until recently, perennial herbaceous grain crops have
[...] Read more.
The development of new perennial crop species is gaining momentum as a promising approach to change the fundamental nature of ecosystem processes in agriculture. The ecological argument for perennial crops grown in polycultures is strong, but until recently, perennial herbaceous grain crops have been absent from agricultural landscape. This is not because perennial herbaceous species do not exist in nature—there are thousands of perennial grasses, legumes, and other broad leaf plants. Rather, for a variety of reasons, early farmers focused on cultivating and domesticating annuals, and the perennial herbs were largely ignored. Today, we have a tremendous opportunity to explore another agricultural path. Building on contemporary knowledge of plant biology and genetics that early farmers lacked, and using a rapidly expanding toolbox that includes sophisticated genomic and analytical approaches, we can develop viable perennial grain crops. These crops can then be used to assemble diverse agroecosystems that regenerate soils and capture other important ecosystem functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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Research

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Open AccessArticle Towards the Development of Perennial Barley for Cold Temperate Climates—Evaluation of Wild Barley Relatives as Genetic Resources
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1969; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061969
Received: 6 April 2018 / Revised: 6 June 2018 / Accepted: 8 June 2018 / Published: 12 June 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2612 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Perennial cereal crops could limit the negative impacts of agriculture on the environment and climate change. In cold temperate climates, perennial plants must be adapted to seasonal changes and abiotic stresses, such as frost, to be able to regrow for several years. Wild
[...] Read more.
Perennial cereal crops could limit the negative impacts of agriculture on the environment and climate change. In cold temperate climates, perennial plants must be adapted to seasonal changes and abiotic stresses, such as frost, to be able to regrow for several years. Wild crop relatives that are perennials and already adapted to cold temperate climates may provide genetic resources for breeding new perennial cereal grain crops. Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is one of the most important cereals in northern agricultural areas, and its related perennial species may be good candidates for the development of perennial cereals. We evaluated a diverse set of 17 wild perennial Hordeum species represented by 67 accessions in field conditions with a cold winter climate and long days during summer in Central Sweden (latitude 60° N). Six species (H. brevisubulatum, H. bulbosum, H. fuegianum, H. jubatum, H. lechleri and H. secalinum) showed regrowth and formation of spikes for four seasons. The most distant perennial relative of barley, H. stenostachys, showed weak regrowth. H. bulbosum, the closest perennial barley relative, had a large number of accessions with wide geographic origins that showed good regrowth. Together with its storage bulbs and its cross-compatibility with barley, this makes H. bulbosum an important genetic resource for the development of perennial Hordeum grains using either the domestication or the wide-hybridization strategy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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Open AccessArticle Development and Evolution of an Intermediate Wheatgrass Domestication Program
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1499; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051499
Received: 16 February 2018 / Revised: 16 April 2018 / Accepted: 3 May 2018 / Published: 9 May 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (521 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Ecological intensification of agriculture is a proposed strategy to enhance the production of food while expanding ecosystem services and reducing inputs. Perennial plants that are directly harvested for human food are a novel means of ecological intensification, by potentially providing unprecedented levels of
[...] Read more.
Ecological intensification of agriculture is a proposed strategy to enhance the production of food while expanding ecosystem services and reducing inputs. Perennial plants that are directly harvested for human food are a novel means of ecological intensification, by potentially providing unprecedented levels of ecological services, such as increased soil carbon and reduced nutrient leaching. However, existing herbaceous perennial plants produce low yields of harvestable seed. Therefore, we initiated a domestication program to improve the grain yield of the perennial intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium [Host] Barkworth & D.R. Dewey). The breeding program has adapted to changing resources and to results from previous generations, with methods becoming more elaborate as the program has matured over six breeding cycles. Average predicted gains from selection accumulated over five cycles were 143, 181 and 60% respectively, for seed yield per head, percent naked seed and mass per seed. We did not detect negative correlations that would indicate simultaneously achieving increased grain yield and sustained perenniality would be particularly difficult. Heritability estimates based on genetic markers were the same or higher than those calculated from a pedigree, indicating that markers have potential to expedite breeding efforts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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Open AccessArticle The Performance of Early-Generation Perennial Winter Cereals at 21 Sites across Four Continents
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1124; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041124
Received: 27 February 2018 / Revised: 2 April 2018 / Accepted: 3 April 2018 / Published: 9 April 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (12633 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A network of 21 experiments was established across nine countries on four continents and spanning both hemispheres, to evaluate the relative performance of early generation perennial cereal material derived from wheat, rye, and barley and to inform future breeding strategies. The experimental lines
[...] Read more.
A network of 21 experiments was established across nine countries on four continents and spanning both hemispheres, to evaluate the relative performance of early generation perennial cereal material derived from wheat, rye, and barley and to inform future breeding strategies. The experimental lines were grown in replicated single rows, and first year production and phenology characteristics as well as yield and persistence for up to three years were monitored. The study showed that the existing experimental material is all relatively short-lived (≤3 years), with environments that are milder in summer and winter generally conferring greater longevity. No pedigree was superior across this diverse network of sites although better performing lines at the higher latitude sites were generally derived from Thinopyrum intermedium. By contrast, at lower latitudes the superior lines were generally derived from Th. ponticum and Th. elongatum parentage. The study observed a poor relationship between year 1 performance and productivity in later years, highlighting the need for perennial cereal material with greater longevity to underpin future experimental evaluation, and the importance for breeding programs to emphasize post-year 1 performance in their selections. Hybrid lines derived from the tetraploid durum wheat generally showed greater longevity than derivatives of hexaploid wheat, highlighting potential for greater use of Triticum turgidum in perennial wheat breeding. We advocate a model in future breeding initiatives that develops perennial cereal genotypes for specific target environments rather than a generic product for one global market. These products may include a diversity of cultivars derived from locally adapted annual and perennial parents. In this scenario the breeding program may have access to only a limited range of adapted perennial grass parents. In other situations, such as at very high latitude environments, perennial crops derived from barley or rye may have a better chance of success than those derived from wheat. In either case, development and selection of the perennial parent for adaptation to local environments would seem fundamental to success. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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Open AccessArticle Performance, Economics and Potential Impact of Perennial Rice PR23 Relative to Annual Rice Cultivars at Multiple Locations in Yunnan Province of China
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1086; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041086
Received: 13 February 2018 / Revised: 27 March 2018 / Accepted: 27 March 2018 / Published: 5 April 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (799 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Perennial grain crops hold the promise of stabilizing fragile lands, while contributing grain and grazing in mixed farming systems. Recently, perennial rice was reported to successfully survive, regrow, and yield across a diverse range of environments in Southern China and Laos, with perennial
[...] Read more.
Perennial grain crops hold the promise of stabilizing fragile lands, while contributing grain and grazing in mixed farming systems. Recently, perennial rice was reported to successfully survive, regrow, and yield across a diverse range of environments in Southern China and Laos, with perennial rice PR23 being identified as a prime candidate for release to farmers. This paper reports the evaluation of PR23 for release, by (1) comparing its survival, regrowth, performance, and adaptation with preferred annual rices across nine ecological regions in southern Yunnan Province of China; (2) examining the economic costs and benefits of perennial versus annual rice there; and (3) discussing the evidence for the release of PR23 as a broadly adapted and acceptable cultivar for farmers. Overall, the grain yield of PR23 was similar to those of the preferred annual rice cultivars RD23 and HXR7, but the economic analysis indicated substantial labour savings for farmers by growing the perennial instead of the annual. PR23 was comparable to the annuals in phenology, plant height, grain yield, and grain size, and was acceptable in grain and cooking quality. Farmers were keen to grow it because of reduced costs and especially savings in labour. PR23 is proposed for release to farmers because of its comparable grain yields to annual rices, its acceptable grain and milling quality, its cost and labour savings, and the likely benefits to soil stability and ecological sustainability, along with more flexible farming systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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Open AccessArticle Effect of Puccinia silphii on Yield Components and Leaf Physiology in Silphium integrifolium: Lessons for the Domestication of a Perennial Oilseed Crop
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 696; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030696
Received: 10 February 2018 / Revised: 27 February 2018 / Accepted: 1 March 2018 / Published: 5 March 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1613 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
New crops with greater capacity for delivering ecosystem services are needed to increase agricultural sustainability. However, even in these crops, seed yield is usually the main criteria for grain domestication. This focus on yield can cause unintended structural and functional changes. Leaves of
[...] Read more.
New crops with greater capacity for delivering ecosystem services are needed to increase agricultural sustainability. However, even in these crops, seed yield is usually the main criteria for grain domestication. This focus on yield can cause unintended structural and functional changes. Leaves of selected plants tend to be more vulnerable to infection, which can reduce performance, assimilates, and ultimately yield. Our objectives were to determine the impact of rust (caused by Puccinia silphii) on yield and leaf function in selected Silphium integrifolium (Asteraceae) plants. We tested the effect of a fungicide treatment on rust severity and yield, compared the rust infection of individuals in a population selected for yield, and related this to chemical changes at the leaf level. We also estimated heritability for rust resistance. We found that productivity indicators (head number and weight, leaf weight) and leaf processes (photosynthetic capacity, water use efficiency) were reduced when silphium leaves and stems were more heavily infected by P. silphii. Leaf resin content increased when susceptible plants were infected. Fungicide treatments were effective at reducing rust infection severity, but were ineffective at preventing yield losses. We propose that disease resistance should be included early in the selection process of new perennial crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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Open AccessArticle Has Selection for Grain Yield Altered Intermediate Wheatgrass?
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 688; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030688
Received: 10 February 2018 / Revised: 26 February 2018 / Accepted: 28 February 2018 / Published: 3 March 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1617 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Perennial grains are demonstrating a greater probability of occupying land currently dedicated to other agricultural production. Arable land that is currently in use for forage or annual crop production becomes utilized. Breeding materials for the introduction of perennial grains directly into the human
[...] Read more.
Perennial grains are demonstrating a greater probability of occupying land currently dedicated to other agricultural production. Arable land that is currently in use for forage or annual crop production becomes utilized. Breeding materials for the introduction of perennial grains directly into the human food chain has required utilizing existing plant materials in the domestication of species or manufacturing diverse crosses to introduce perenniality into existing crops. In the domestication of intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium (Host), Barkworth and Dewey), existing forage cultivars or plant accessions were used to develop populations selected for grain production. A comparison of Cycle 3 materials from The Land Institute (TLI), Salina, KS, USA to USDA-Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) accessions took place under space-planted field conditions at Carman, MB, Canada from 2011 to 2014. One hundred plants (75 TLI and 25 GRIN identified in May 2012) were followed through three seed harvests cycles with phenological, morphological and agronomic traits measured throughout. Selection for seed productivity (TLI materials) reduced the importance of biomass plant−1 on seed yield plant−1, leading to an increase in harvest index. Principal component analysis demonstrated the separation of the germplasm sources and the differential impact of years on the performance of all accessions. Path coefficient analysis also indicated that plant biomass production was of less importance on seed yield plant−1 in the TLI materials. Analysis removing area plant−1 as a factor increased both the importance of biomass and heads on seed yield cm−2 in the TLI materials, especially in the first two seed production years. Plant differences due to selection appear to have reduced overall plant area and increased harvest index in the TLI materials, indicating progress for grain yield under selection. However, a greater understanding of the dynamics within a seed production field is needed to provide insight into the development of more effective selection criteria for long-term field level production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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Open AccessArticle Progress and Bottlenecks in the Early Domestication of the Perennial Oilseed Silphium integrifolium, a Sunflower Substitute
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 638; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030638
Received: 22 January 2018 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 21 February 2018 / Published: 28 February 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2322 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Silflower (Silphium integrifolium Michx.) is in the early stages of domestication as a perennial version of oilseed sunflower, its close relative. Grain crops with deep perennial root systems will provide farmers with new alternatives for managing soil moisture and limiting or remediating
[...] Read more.
Silflower (Silphium integrifolium Michx.) is in the early stages of domestication as a perennial version of oilseed sunflower, its close relative. Grain crops with deep perennial root systems will provide farmers with new alternatives for managing soil moisture and limiting or remediating soil erosion, fertilizer leaching, and loss of soil biota. Several cycles of selection for increased seed production potential following initial germplasm evaluation in 2002 have provided opportunities to document the botany and ecology of this relatively obscure species, to compare agronomic practices for improving its propagation and management, and to evaluate the differences between semi-domesticated and wild accessions that have accrued over this time through intentional and unintentional genetic processes. Key findings include: domestication has increased aboveground biomass at seedling and adult stages; seed yield has increased more, achieving modest improvement in harvest index. Harvest index decreases with nitrogen fertilization. Silflower acquires nitrogen and water from greater depth than typical crops. In agricultural silflower stands within its native range, we found that Puccinia silphii (rust) and Eucosma giganteana (moth) populations build up to unacceptable levels, but we also found genetic variation for traits contributing to resistance or tolerance. Breeding or management for reduced height and vegetative plasticity should be top priorities for future silflower research outside its native range. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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Open AccessArticle Recent Progress in Perennial Buckwheat Development
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 536; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020536
Received: 8 January 2018 / Revised: 9 February 2018 / Accepted: 13 February 2018 / Published: 17 February 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (5527 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Grains in the genus Fagopyrum have benefits to human health and are an excellent gluten-free raw material. Of all cereal foods, this genus has the highest total content of amino-acid nutrients necessary for humans; nutrients that are resistant to digestion (protein and starch)
[...] Read more.
Grains in the genus Fagopyrum have benefits to human health and are an excellent gluten-free raw material. Of all cereal foods, this genus has the highest total content of amino-acid nutrients necessary for humans; nutrients that are resistant to digestion (protein and starch) resulting in their sustained release; higher dietary fiber content than key cereals, and is rich in a special healthy ingredient (flavonoids). Fagopyrum includes 24 species of which five are perennial. Among them, golden buckwheat (F.cymosum complex) is the most important perennial buckwheat, which is not only used in Chinese medicine, but also has great potential in healthy food crop. In order to provide some clues for perennial crop studies and their industry development, this paper presents the state of perennial buckwheat research in terms of taxonomy; natural chemical products and pharmacological and health functions; genetics and evolution; breeding; and product development and utilization. The great advances such as successful interspecific crossing and its subsequent new perennial buckwheat varieties will speed up the development of the perennial buckwheat industry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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Open AccessArticle Development of Perennial Grain Sorghum
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010172
Received: 15 December 2017 / Revised: 3 January 2018 / Accepted: 6 January 2018 / Published: 12 January 2018
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (3243 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Perennial germplasm derived from crosses between Sorghum bicolor and either S. halepense or S. propinquum is being developed with the goal of preventing and reversing soil degradation in the world’s grain sorghum-growing regions. Perennial grain sorghum plants produce subterranean stems known as rhizomes
[...] Read more.
Perennial germplasm derived from crosses between Sorghum bicolor and either S. halepense or S. propinquum is being developed with the goal of preventing and reversing soil degradation in the world’s grain sorghum-growing regions. Perennial grain sorghum plants produce subterranean stems known as rhizomes that sprout to form the next season’s crop. In Kansas, breeding perennial sorghum involves crossing S. bicolor cultivars or breeding lines to S. halepense or perennial S. bicolorn × S. halepense breeding lines, selecting perennial plants from F2 or subsequent populations, crossing those plants with S. bicolor, and repeating the cycle. A retrospective field trial in Kansas showed that selection and backcrossing during 2002–2009 had improved grain yields and seed weights of breeding lines. Second-season grain yields of sorghum lines regrowing from rhizomes were similar to yields in the first season. Further selection cycles have been completed since 2009. Many rhizomatous lines that cannot survive winters in Kansas are perennial at subtropical or tropical locations in North America and Africa. Grain yield in Kansas was not correlated with rhizomatousness in either Kansas or Uganda. Genomic regions affecting rhizome growth and development have been mapped, providing new breeding tools. The S. halepense gene pool may harbor many alleles useful for improving sorghum for a broad range of traits in addition to perenniality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Perennial Grain Legume Domestication Phase I: Criteria for Candidate Species Selection
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 730; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030730
Received: 12 February 2018 / Revised: 2 March 2018 / Accepted: 4 March 2018 / Published: 7 March 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (294 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Annual cereal and legume grain production is dependent on inorganic nitrogen (N) and other fertilizers inputs to resupply nutrients lost as harvested grain, via soil erosion/runoff, and by other natural or anthropogenic causes. Temperate-adapted perennial grain legumes, though currently non-existent, might be uniquely
[...] Read more.
Annual cereal and legume grain production is dependent on inorganic nitrogen (N) and other fertilizers inputs to resupply nutrients lost as harvested grain, via soil erosion/runoff, and by other natural or anthropogenic causes. Temperate-adapted perennial grain legumes, though currently non-existent, might be uniquely situated as crop plants able to provide relief from reliance on synthetic nitrogen while supplying stable yields of highly nutritious seeds in low-input agricultural ecosystems. As such, perennial grain legume breeding and domestication programs are being initiated at The Land Institute (Salina, KS, USA) and elsewhere. This review aims to facilitate the development of those programs by providing criteria for evaluating potential species and in choosing candidates most likely to be domesticated and adopted as herbaceous, perennial, temperate-adapted grain legumes. We outline specific morphological and ecophysiological traits that may influence each candidate’s agronomic potential, the quality of its seeds and the ecosystem services it can provide. Finally, we suggest that perennial grain legume breeders and domesticators should consider how a candidate’s reproductive biology, genome structure and availability of genetic resources will determine its ease of breeding and its domestication timeline. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies, Advances and Challenges of Breeding Perennial Grain Crops)
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