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Pursuing the Potential of Heirloom Cultivars to Improve Adaptation, Nutritional, and Culinary Features of Food Crops

1
Independent Researcher, Hyderabad, Telangana 500001, India
2
Department of Horticulture, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin Madison, 1575 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA
3
Department of Plant Breeding, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sundsvagen 10 Box 101, SE 23053 Alnarp, Sweden
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2019, 9(8), 441; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9080441
Received: 19 July 2019 / Revised: 3 August 2019 / Accepted: 7 August 2019 / Published: 9 August 2019
The burdens of malnutrition, protein and micronutrient deficiency, and obesity cause enormous costs to society. Crop nutritional quality has been compromised by the emphasis on edible yield and through the loss of biodiversity due to the introduction of high-yielding, uniform cultivars. Heirloom crop cultivars are traditional cultivars that have been grown for a long time (>50 years), and that have a heritage that has been preserved by regional, ethnic, or family groups. Heirlooms are recognized for their unique appearance, names, uses, and historical significance. They are gaining in popularity because of their unique flavors and cultural significance to local cuisine, and their role in sustainable food production for small-scale farmers. As a contrast to modern cultivars, heirlooms may offer a welcome alternative in certain markets. Recently, market channels have emerged for heirloom cultivars in the form of farmer–breeder–chef collaborations and seed-saver organizations. There is therefore an urgent need to know more about the traits available in heirloom cultivars, particularly for productivity, stress tolerance, proximate composition, sensory quality, and flavor. This information is scattered, and the intention of this review is to document some of the unique characteristics of heirloom cultivars that may be channeled into breeding programs for developing locally adapted, high-value cultivars. View Full-Text
Keywords: consumer-oriented breeding; consumer-oriented germplasm conservation; culinary; farmer–breeder–chef–consumer nexus; genetic diversity; heritage seedbank; local food systems; seed-savers; stress tolerance consumer-oriented breeding; consumer-oriented germplasm conservation; culinary; farmer–breeder–chef–consumer nexus; genetic diversity; heritage seedbank; local food systems; seed-savers; stress tolerance
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MDPI and ACS Style

Dwivedi, S.; Goldman, I.; Ortiz, R. Pursuing the Potential of Heirloom Cultivars to Improve Adaptation, Nutritional, and Culinary Features of Food Crops. Agronomy 2019, 9, 441.

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