Special Issue "Wild Crop Relatives and Associated Biocultural and Traditional Agronomic Practices for Food and Nutritional Security"

A special issue of Agronomy (ISSN 2073-4395).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Purushothaman Chirakkuzhyil Abhilash
Website1 Website2 SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005, India
Interests: climate-resilient agriculture; food security; sustainable agriculture; agrobiodiversity; agricultural sustainability; indigenous and local knowledge (ILK); wild crops
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Ajeet Singh
Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Environment & Sustainable Development, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, India
Interests: Agrobiodiversity management; Biocultural knowledge; Climate resilient agriculture; Food and nutritional security; Traditional agricultural practices; Wild crop relatives
Dr. Rama Kant Dubey
Website
Guest Editor
Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Research Unit, Comparative Microbiome Analysis, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany
Interests: Agroecosystem management; Biofertilizers; Climate resilient agriculture; Food and nutritional security; Plant-microbe interactions; Resource conservation practices
Prof. Dr. Hailin Zhang
Website
Guest Editor
College of Agronomy and Biotechnology, China Agricultural University; Key Laboratory of Farming System, Ministry of Agriculture of China, Beijing 100193, China
Interests: cropping system; climate change; conservation agriculture; soil organic carbon; farming
Dr. Othmane Merah
Website
Guest Editor
1. Laboratoire de Chimie Agro-industrielle, LCA, Université de Toulouse, INRA, Toulouse, France
2. Université Paul Sabatier, IUT A, Département génie Biologique, Toulouse, France
Interests: cereals; oilseed crop; plant physiology; plant breeding; abiotic stress; bioactives accumulation
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Ensuring food and nutritional security for a rapidly growing human population is one the major sustainability challenges in this twenty first century as well as one of the immediate global priority for attaining Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs) such as no poverty, zero hunger and good health and well-being. However, food production solely depends on limited crop species is a real challenge for humanity and therefore the conservation and management of traditional and wild crop varieties and associated biocultural, traditional and ecological agricultural knowledge are essential for dietary diversification and also for breeding next generation of climate smart crops for the futuristic climatic conditions. Though many of the traditional and wild varieties are having higher nutritional values and better adaptation traits than modern varieties, they are being neglected and underutilized throughout the world without knowing their real potential. Similarly, the associated traditional and biocultural knowledge are also being vanished gradually. Therefore, the sustainable management of agrobiodiversity including traditional and wild varieties of crop plants as well as the associated biocultural and traditional knowledge regarding their conservation, propagation and exploitation are essential for the dietary diversification programs and also for ensuring the food and nutritional demand of the growing population. In this backdrop, the present Special Issue on “Wild Crop Relatives and Associated Biocultural and Traditional Agronomic Practices for Food and Nutritional Security” is aimed to highlight the potential traditional and wild crop varieties of nutritional significance and associated biocultural knowledge from diverse agroecological regions of the world for attaining food and nutritional security.

Prof. Dr. Purushothaman Chirakkuzhyil Abhilash
Mr. Ajeet Singh
Mr. Rama Kant Dubey
Prof. Dr. Hailin Zhang
Assoc. Prof. Othmane Merah
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. Agronomy 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 1600 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

  • Agrobiodiversity
  • Adaptive agronomic practices
  • Biocultural knowledge
  • Crop improvement programs
  • Dietary diversification
  • Field gene banks
  • Food security
  • Genetic diversity
  • Nutritional security
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Wild crop varieties
  • Traditional crop varieties
  • Traditional agronomic practices

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
The Trilogy of Wild Crops, Traditional Agronomic Practices, and UN-Sustainable Development Goals
Agronomy 2020, 10(5), 648; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10050648 - 02 May 2020
Abstract
The world population is projected to become 10 billion by the end of this century. This growing population exerts tremendous pressure on our finite food resources. Unfortunately, the lion-share of the global calorie intake is reliant upon a handful of plant species like [...] Read more.
The world population is projected to become 10 billion by the end of this century. This growing population exerts tremendous pressure on our finite food resources. Unfortunately, the lion-share of the global calorie intake is reliant upon a handful of plant species like rice, wheat, maize, soybean and potato. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to expand our dietary reliance to nutritionally rich but neglected, underutilized and yet-to-be-used wild plants. Many wild plants are also having ethnomedicinal and biocultural significance. Owing to their ecosystem plasticity, they are adapted to diverse habitats including marginal, degraded and other disturbed soil systems. Due to these resilient attributes, they can be considered for large-scale cultivation. However, proper biotechnological interventions are important for (i) removing the negative traits (e.g., low yield, slow growth, antinutritional factors, etc.), (ii) improving the positive traits (e.g., nutritional quality, stress tolerance, etc.), as well as (iii) standardizing the mass multiplication and cultivation strategies of such species for various agro-climatic regions. Besides, learning the biocultural knowledge and traditional cultivation practices employed by the local people is also crucial for their exploitation. The Special Issue “Wild Crop Relatives and Associated Biocultural and Traditional Agronomic Practices for Food and Nutritional Security” was intended to showcase the potential wild crop varieties of nutritional significance and associated biocultural knowledge from the diverse agroecological regions of the world and also to formulate suitable policy frameworks for food and nutritional security. The novel recommendations brought by this Special Issue would serve as a stepping stone for utilizing wild and neglected crops as a supplemental food. Nevertheless, long-term cultivation trials under various agro-climatic conditions are utmost important for unlocking the real potential of these species. Full article
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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Farmers’ Preferences for Genetic Resources of Kersting’s Groundnut [Macrotyloma geocarpum (Harms) Maréchal and Baudet] in the Production Systems of Burkina Faso and Ghana
Agronomy 2020, 10(3), 371; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10030371 - 08 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Pulses play important roles in providing proteins and essential amino-acids, and contribute to soils’ nutrients cycling in most smallholder farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). These crops can be promoted to meet food and nutrition security goals in low-income countries. Here, we investigated [...] Read more.
Pulses play important roles in providing proteins and essential amino-acids, and contribute to soils’ nutrients cycling in most smallholder farming systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). These crops can be promoted to meet food and nutrition security goals in low-income countries. Here, we investigated the status of Kersting’s groundnut (Macrotyloma geocarpum, Fabaceae), a neglected pulse in West Africa. We explored its diversity, the production systems, the production constraints and farmers’ preferences in Burkina Faso and Ghana. Focus groups and semi-structured interviews were conducted in 39 villages with 86 respondents grouped in five sociolinguistic groups. Our results indicated that Macrotyloma geocarpum was produced in three cultivation systems: in the first system, farmers grew Kersting’s groundnut in fields, mostly on mounds or on ridges; in the second system, farmers grew it as field border; and in the third system, no clear tillage practice was identified. The main constraints of those farming systems included: difficulty to harvest, the lack of manpower and the damage due to high soil humidity at the reproductive stage. A total of 62 samples were collected and clustered in six landraces based on seed coat colors including cream, white mottled with black eye, white mottled with greyed orange eye, black, brown mottled, and brown. All six groups were found in the southern-Sudanian zone whereas only white mottled with black eye and black colors were found in the northern-Sudanian zone. The white mottled with black eye landrace was commonly known and widely grown by farmers. Farmers’ preferences were, however, influenced by sociolinguistic membership and the most preferred traits included high yielding, drought tolerance, and resistance against beetles. These findings offer an avenue to develop a relevant breeding research agenda for promoting Kersting’s groundnut in Burkina Faso and Ghana. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Induced Mutagenesis Enhances Lodging Resistance and Photosynthetic Efficiency of Kodomillet (Paspalum Scrobiculatum)
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 227; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020227 - 04 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The present research was focused in the development of photosynthetically efficient (PhE) and non-lodging mutants by utilizing ethyl methane sulphonate (EMS) and gamma radiation in the kodomillet variety CO 3, prone to lodging. Striking variations in a number of anatomical characteristics of leaf [...] Read more.
The present research was focused in the development of photosynthetically efficient (PhE) and non-lodging mutants by utilizing ethyl methane sulphonate (EMS) and gamma radiation in the kodomillet variety CO 3, prone to lodging. Striking variations in a number of anatomical characteristics of leaf anatomy for PhE and culm thickness for lodging resistance was recorded in M2 (second mutant) generation. The identified mutants were subjected to transcriptomic studies to understand their molecular basis. Expression profiling was undertaken for pyruvate phosphate dikinase (PPDK), Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate Hydrogen—(NADPH) and NADP-dependent malate dehydrogenase (NADP-MDH) in the mutants CO 3-100-7-12 (photosynthetically efficient) and in CO 3-200-13-4 (less efficient). For lodging trait, two mutants CO 3-100-18-22 (lodged) and CO 3-300-7-4 (non-lodged) were selected for expression profiling using genes GA2ox6 and Rht-B. The studies confirmed the expression of PPDK increased 30-fold, NADP-ME2 ~1-fold and NADP-MDH10 was also highly expressed in the mutant CO 3-100-7-12. These expression profiles suggest that kodomillet uses an NADP-malic enzyme subtype C4 photosynthetic system. The expression of Rht-B was significantly up regulated in CO 3-300-7-4. The study highlights the differential expression patterns of the same gene in different lines at different time points of stress as well as non-stress conditions. This infers that the mutation has some effect on their expression; otherwise the expression levels will be unaltered. Enhancement in grain yield could be best achieved by developing a phenotype with high PhE and culm with thick sclerenchyma cells. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Agro-Morphological Exploration of Some Unexplored Wild Vigna Legumes for Domestication
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010111 - 13 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The domestication of novel or hitherto wild food crops is quickly becoming one of the most popular approaches in tackling the challenges associated with sustainable food crop production, especially in this era, where producing more food with fewer resources is the need of [...] Read more.
The domestication of novel or hitherto wild food crops is quickly becoming one of the most popular approaches in tackling the challenges associated with sustainable food crop production, especially in this era, where producing more food with fewer resources is the need of the hour. The crop breeding community is not yet completely unanimous regarding the importance of crop neo-domestication. However, exploring the unexplored, refining unrefined traits, cultivating the uncultivated, and popularizing the unpopular remain the most adequate steps proposed by most researchers to achieve the domestication of the undomesticated for food and nutrition security. Therefore, in the same line of thought, this paper explores the agro-morphological characteristics of some wild Vigna legumes from an inquisitive perspective to contribute to their domestication. One hundred and sixty accessions of wild Vigna legumes, obtained from gene banks, were planted, following the augmented block design layout of two agro-ecological zones of Tanzania, during the 2018 and 2019 main cropping seasons for agro-morphological investigations. The generalized linear model procedure (GLM PROC), two-way analysis of variance (two-way ANOVA), agglomerative hierarchical clustering (AHC) and principal component analysis (PCA) were used to analyze the accession, block and block vs. accession effects, as well as the accession × site and accession × season interaction grouping variations among accessions. The results showed that the wild species (Vigna racemosa; Vigna ambacensis; Vigna reticulata; and Vigna vexillata) present a considerable variety of qualitative traits that singularly exist in the three studied checks (cowpea, rice bean, and a landrace of Vigna vexillata). Of the 15 examined quantitative traits, only the days to flowering, pods per plant, hundred seed weight and yield were affected by the growing environment (accession × site effect), while only the number of flowers per raceme and the pods per plant were affected by the cropping season (accession × season effect). All the quantitative traits showed significant differences among accessions for each site and each season. The same result was observed among the checks, except for the seed size trait. The study finally revealed three groups, in a cluster analysis and 59.61% of the best variations among the traits and accessions in PCA. Indications as to the candidate accessions favorable for domestication were also revealed. Such key preliminary information could be of the utmost importance for the domestication, breeding, and improvement of these species, since it also determines their future existence—that is, so long as biodiversity conservation continues to be a challenging concern for humanity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Diversity and Domestication Status of Spider Plant (Gynandropsis gynandra, L.) amongst Sociolinguistic Groups of Northern Namibia
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010056 - 01 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Knowledge on the diversity and domestication levels of the spider plant (Gynandropsis gynandra) has the potential to affect pre-breeding for client-preferred traits, yet information is scarce in Namibia due to limited research. We investigated indigenous knowledge on the species diversity and [...] Read more.
Knowledge on the diversity and domestication levels of the spider plant (Gynandropsis gynandra) has the potential to affect pre-breeding for client-preferred traits, yet information is scarce in Namibia due to limited research. We investigated indigenous knowledge on the species diversity and domestication levels in the regions of Kavango West, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana, and Oshikoto of northern Namibia. Semi-structured interviews involving 100 randomly selected farming households, four key informant interviews, and a focus group discussion were conducted. Descriptive and chi-square tests were conducted using IBM SPSS version 20. Out of the possible four morphotypes, the results suggested that only one with green stem and green petiole existed and was associated with soils rich in organic manure. Spider plant abundance was reported to be on the decline, due to declining soil fertility. On a scale of 0 (wild species) to 6 (highest level of domestication), an index of 1.56 was found and this implied very low domestication levels. Furthermore, the study found significant differences in the trends of domestication across the sociolinguistic groups (χ2 (12, N = 98) = 46.9, p < 0.001) and regions studied (χ2 (12, N = 100) = 47.8, p < 0.001), suggesting cultural and geographical influences. In conclusion, the findings constituted an important precedent for guiding subsequent pre-breeding efforts. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Neglected and Underutilized Fruit Species in Sri Lanka: Prioritisation and Understanding the Potential Distribution under Climate Change
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010034 - 25 Dec 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Neglected and underutilized fruit species (NUFS) can make an important contribution to the economy, food security and nutrition requirement for Sri Lanka. Identifying suitable areas for cultivation of NUFS is of paramount importance to deal with impending climate change issues. Nevertheless, limited studies [...] Read more.
Neglected and underutilized fruit species (NUFS) can make an important contribution to the economy, food security and nutrition requirement for Sri Lanka. Identifying suitable areas for cultivation of NUFS is of paramount importance to deal with impending climate change issues. Nevertheless, limited studies have been carried out to assess the impact of climate change on the potential distribution of NUFS. Therefore, we examined the potential range changes of NUFS in a tropical climate using a case study from Sri Lanka. We prioritized and modeled the potentially suitable areas for four NUFS, namely Aegle marmelos, Annona muricata, Limonia acidissima and Tamarindus indica under current and projected climates (RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5) for 2050 and 2070 using the maximum entropy (Maxent) species distribution modeling (SDM) approach. Potentially suitable areas for NUFS are predicted to decrease in the future under both scenarios. Out of the four NUFS, T. indica appears to be at the highest risk due to reduction in potential areas that are suitable for its growth under both emissions scenarios. The predicted suitable area reductions of this species for 2050 and 2070 are estimated as >75% compared to the current climate. A region of potentially higher climatic suitability was found around mid-county for multiple NUFS, which is also predicted to decrease under projected climate change. Further, the study identified high-potential agro-ecological regions (AERs) located in the mid-country’s wet and intermediate zones as the most suitable areas for promoting the cultivation of NUFS. The findings show the potential for incorporating predictive modeling into the management of NUFS under projected climate change. This study highlights the requirements of climate change adaptation strategies and focused research that can increase the resilience of NUFS to future changes in climate. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Moderation of Inulin and Polyphenolics Contents in Three Cultivars of Helianthus tuberosus L. by Potassium Fertilization
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 884; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120884 - 13 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Jerusalem artichoke, a widely consumed edible, is an excellent source of inulin and selected phytochemicals. However, the improvement of its chemical composition by potassium fertilization has not yet been studied. Thus, the aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of different [...] Read more.
Jerusalem artichoke, a widely consumed edible, is an excellent source of inulin and selected phytochemicals. However, the improvement of its chemical composition by potassium fertilization has not yet been studied. Thus, the aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of different potassium (K) fertilization levels (K2O 150 kg ha−1, 250 kg ha−1, 350 kg ha−1) on the content of inulin; profile and changes in polyphenolic compounds; and the antioxidant capacity, including on-line ABTS antioxidant profiles of freeze-dried tubers originated from Violette de Rennes, Topstar, and Waldspindel cultivars. Inulin content was highest in the early maturing cv. Topstar. The application of 350 kg ha−1 of K fertilizer rates during the growth of cv. Topstar increased the inulin content of tubers by 13.2% relative to the lowest K fertilizer rate of 150 kg ha−1. In cv. Violette de Rennes, inulin accumulation increased in response to the fertilizer rate of 250 kg ha−1. A further increase in K fertilizer rates had no effect on inulin content. The inulin content of cv. Waldspindel was not modified by any of the tested K fertilizer rates. Thus, the accumulation of the inulin was cultivar-dependent. In the cultivars analyzed, 11 polyphenolic compounds were identified and polyphenolic compound content was affected by the applied rate of potassium fertilizer, which was dependent on the cultivar. Chlorogenic acid was the predominant phenolic acid in all cultivars, and it accounted for around 66.4% of the identified polyphenolic compounds in cv. Violette de Rennes and for around 77% of polyphenolic compounds in cv. Waldspindel and Topstar. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Growing Conditions Affect the Phytochemical Composition of Edible Wall Rocket (Diplotaxis erucoides)
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 858; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120858 - 07 Dec 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Wall rocket (Diplotaxis erucoides) is a wild vegetable with the potential to become a crop of high antioxidant quality. The main bioactive compounds include ascorbic acid (AA), sinigrin, and a high content of total phenolic compounds (TP). It also accumulates nitrates. [...] Read more.
Wall rocket (Diplotaxis erucoides) is a wild vegetable with the potential to become a crop of high antioxidant quality. The main bioactive compounds include ascorbic acid (AA), sinigrin, and a high content of total phenolic compounds (TP). It also accumulates nitrates. Since these compounds are affected by environmental conditions, adequate crop management may enhance its quality. Eleven accessions of wall rocket were evaluated under field and greenhouse conditions during two cycles (winter and spring) and compared to Eruca sativa and Diplotaxis tenuifolia crops. The three species did not differ greatly. As an exception, sinigrin was only identified in wall rocket. For the within-species analysis, the results revealed a high effect of the growing system, but this was low among accessions. The highest contents of AA and TP were obtained under field conditions. In addition, the levels of nitrates were lower in this system. A negative correlation between nitrates and antioxidants was determined. As a counterpart, cultivation in the field–winter environment significantly decreased the percentage of humidity (87%). These results are of relevance for the adaptation of wall rocket to different growing conditions and suggest that the field system enhances its quality. The low genotypic differences suggest that intra-species selections in breeding programs may consider other aspects with greater variation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Nutraceutical Uses of Traditional Leafy Vegetables and Transmission of Local Knowledge from Parents to Children in Southern Benin
Agronomy 2019, 9(12), 805; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9120805 - 26 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study assessed differences on the uses and transmission of traditional knowledge (TK) about three traditional leafy vegetables (Crassocephalum crepidioides (Juss. ex Jacq.) S. Moor, Launaea taraxacifolia (Willd.) Amin ex C. Jeffrey, and Vernonia amygdalina Del.) of the Asteraceae family over two [...] Read more.
This study assessed differences on the uses and transmission of traditional knowledge (TK) about three traditional leafy vegetables (Crassocephalum crepidioides (Juss. ex Jacq.) S. Moor, Launaea taraxacifolia (Willd.) Amin ex C. Jeffrey, and Vernonia amygdalina Del.) of the Asteraceae family over two generations in three villages: Adjohoun, Dangbo, and Pobè (southern Benin). Individual semi-structured ethnobotanical interviews of 360 respondents were conducted in the villages with young girls, boys, and their two parents. The relative frequency of citation, use value, and Jaccard similarity index were used for data analyses. Vernonia amygdalina was the most commonly known and used vegetable in all villages, while L. taraxacifolia was confined to Pobè. Factors such as village of survey, generation, and gender affected the use value of the species, but the patterns of recognition and cultivation were species-specific. Leaves were the most used plant part. Traditional knowledge was largely acquired from parents (90% of citation), and both mothers and fathers transmitted a similar amount of knowledge to their progenies. The knowledge on V. amygdalina was transmitted to a larger scale than knowledge of C. crepidioides and L. taraxacifolia. Irrespective of the species, transmission of TK was higher in Pobè. Gender and generation knowledge dynamic hypothesis is species-specific. TK transmission was species-specific too and may be linked to the local importance and use of those resources. These findings will inform strategies and programs for the sustainable use and conservation of leafy vegetables in local communities and national research and development institutions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Recovery of Wheat Heritage for Traditional Food: Genetic Variation for High Molecular Weight Glutenin Subunits in Neglected/Underutilized Wheat
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 755; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110755 - 14 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Club wheat (Triticum aestivum L. ssp. compactum (Host) Mackey), macha wheat (T. aestivum L. ssp. macha (Dekapr. & A.M. Menabde) Mackey) and Indian dwarf wheat (T. aestivum L. ssp. sphaerococcum (Percival) Mackey) are three neglected or underutilized subspecies of hexaploid [...] Read more.
Club wheat (Triticum aestivum L. ssp. compactum (Host) Mackey), macha wheat (T. aestivum L. ssp. macha (Dekapr. & A.M. Menabde) Mackey) and Indian dwarf wheat (T. aestivum L. ssp. sphaerococcum (Percival) Mackey) are three neglected or underutilized subspecies of hexaploid wheat. These materials were and are used to elaborate modern and traditional products, and they could be useful in the revival of traditional foods. Gluten proteins are the main grain components defining end-use quality. The high molecular weight glutenin subunit compositions of 55 accessions of club wheat, 29 accessions of macha wheat, and 26 accessions of Indian dwarf wheat were analyzed using SDS-PAGE. Three alleles for the Glu-A1 locus, 15 for Glu-B1 (four not previously described), and four for Glu-D1 were detected. Their polymorphisms could be a source of genes for quality improvement in common wheat, which would permit both their recovery as new crops and development of modern cultivars with similar quality characteristics but better agronomic traits. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Long-Term Effects of Biochar-Based Organic Amendments on Soil Microbial Parameters
Agronomy 2019, 9(11), 747; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110747 - 12 Nov 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Biochar application to the soil has been recommended as a carbon (C) management approach to sequester C and improve soil quality. Three-year experiments were conducted to investigate the interactive effects of three types of amendments on microbial biomass carbon, soil dehydrogenase activity and [...] Read more.
Biochar application to the soil has been recommended as a carbon (C) management approach to sequester C and improve soil quality. Three-year experiments were conducted to investigate the interactive effects of three types of amendments on microbial biomass carbon, soil dehydrogenase activity and soil microbial community abundance in luvisols of arable land in the Czech Republic. Four different treatments were studied, which were, only NPK as a control, NPK + cattle manure, NPK + biochar and NPK + combination of manure with biochar. The results demonstrate that all amendments were effective in increasing the fungal and bacterial biomass, as is evident from the increased values of bacterial and fungal phospholipid fatty acid analysis. The ammonia-oxidizing bacteria population increases with the application of biochar, and it reaches its maximum value when biochar is applied in combination with manure. The overall results suggest that co-application of biochar with manure changes soil properties in favor of increased microbial biomass. It was confirmed that the application of biochar might increase or decrease soil activity, but its addition, along with manure, always promotes microbial abundance and their activity. The obtained results can be used in the planning and execution of the biochar-based soil amendments. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Agronomic Strategies for Enhancing the Yield and Nutritional Quality of Wild Tomato, Solanum Lycopersicum (l) Var Cerasiforme Mill
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 311; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060311 - 13 Jun 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Urbanization and global climate change have constrained plant development and yield. Utilization of wild gene pool, together with the application of sustainable and eco-friendly agronomic crop improvement strategies, is being focused on to tackle mounting food insecurity issues. In this aspect, the green [...] Read more.
Urbanization and global climate change have constrained plant development and yield. Utilization of wild gene pool, together with the application of sustainable and eco-friendly agronomic crop improvement strategies, is being focused on to tackle mounting food insecurity issues. In this aspect, the green seaweed, Ulva flexuosa, was assessed for plant biostimulant potential on cherry tomato, in terms of seed priming effects, nutrition and yield. SEM-EDX analysis of U. flexuosa presented the occurrence of cell wall elements (O, Na, Mg, S, Cl, K and Ca). The phytochemical analyses of liquid seaweed extract (EF-LSE) revealed the presence of carbohydrates, protein, phenols, flavonoids, saponins, tannins and coumarins. The EF-LSEs were found to stimulate seed germination in a dose-dependent manner, recording higher seed germination, and biomass and growth parameters. The seedlings of treated seeds altered the biochemical profile of the fruit, in terms of TSS (93%), phenol (92%), lycopene (12%) and ascorbic acid (86.8%). The EF-LSEs positively influenced fruit yield (97%). Henceforth, this investigation brings to light the plant biostimulant potential of the under-utilized seaweed source, U. flexuosa, to be useful as a bio fertilizer in agronomic fields for a cumulative enhancement of crop vigour as well as yields to meet the growing food demands. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Wild Vigna Legumes: Farmers’ Perceptions, Preferences, and Prospective Uses for Human Exploitation
Agronomy 2019, 9(6), 284; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9060284 - 31 May 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
The insufficient food supply due to low agricultural productivity and quality standards is one of the major modern challenges of global agricultural food production. Advances in conventional breeding and crop domestication have begun to mitigate this issue by increasing varieties and generation of [...] Read more.
The insufficient food supply due to low agricultural productivity and quality standards is one of the major modern challenges of global agricultural food production. Advances in conventional breeding and crop domestication have begun to mitigate this issue by increasing varieties and generation of stress-resistant traits. Yet, very few species of legumes have been domesticated and perceived as usable food/feed material, while various wild species remain unknown and underexploited despite the critical global food demand. Besides the existence of a few domesticated species, there is a bottleneck challenge of product acceptability by both farmers and consumers. Therefore, this paper explores farmers’ perceptions, preferences, and the possible utilization of some wild Vigna species of legumes toward their domestication and exploitation. Quantitative and qualitative surveys were conducted in a mid-altitude agro-ecological zone (Arusha region) and a high altitude agro-ecological zone (Kilimanjaro region) in Tanzania to obtain the opinions of 150 farmers regarding wild legumes and their uses. The study showed that very few farmers in the Arusha (28%) and Kilimanjaro (26%) regions were aware of wild legumes and their uses. The study further revealed through binary logistic regression analysis that the prior knowledge of wild legumes depended mainly on farmers’ location and not on their gender, age groups, education level, or farming experience. From the experimental plot with 160 accessions of wild Vigna legumes planted and grown up to near complete maturity, 74 accessions of wild Vigna legumes attracted the interest of farmers who proposed various uses for each wild accession. A Χ2 test (likelihood ratio test) revealed that the selection of preferred accessions depended on the farmers’ gender, location, and farming experience. Based on their morphological characteristics (leaves, pods, seeds, and general appearance), farmers perceived wild Vigna legumes as potentially useful resources that need the attention of researchers. Specifically, wild Vigna legumes were perceived as human food, animal feed, medicinal plants, soil enrichment material, and soil erosion-preventing materials. Therefore, it is necessary for the scientific community to consider these lines of farmers’ suggestions before carrying out further research on agronomic and nutritional characteristics toward the domestication of these alien species for human exploitation and decision settings. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Local Solutions for Sustainable Food Systems: The Contribution of Orphan Crops and Wild Edible Species
Agronomy 2020, 10(2), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10020231 - 05 Feb 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Calls for a global food system transformation and finding more sustainable ways of producing healthier, safe and nutritious food for all have spurred production approaches such as sustainable intensification and biofortification with limited consideration of the copious amounts of orphan crops, traditional varieties [...] Read more.
Calls for a global food system transformation and finding more sustainable ways of producing healthier, safe and nutritious food for all have spurred production approaches such as sustainable intensification and biofortification with limited consideration of the copious amounts of orphan crops, traditional varieties and wild edible species readily available in many countries, mostly in and around smallholder farmers’ fields. This paper explores the potential role of locally available; affordable and climate-resilient orphan crops, traditional varieties and wild edible species to support local food system transformation. Evidence from Brazil, Kenya, Guatemala, India, Mali, Sri Lanka and Turkey is used to showcase a three-pronged approach that aims to: (i) increase evidence of the nutritional value and biocultural importance of these foods, (ii) better link research to policy to ensure these foods are considered in national food and nutrition security strategies and actions, and (iii) improve consumer awareness of the desirability of these alternative foods so that they may more easily be incorporated in diets, food systems and markets. In the seven countries, this approach has brought about positive changes around increasing community dietary diversity and increasing market opportunities for smallholder growers, as well as increased attention to biodiversity conservation. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Understanding Molecular Mechanisms of Seed Dormancy for Improved Germination in Traditional Leafy Vegetables: An Overview
Agronomy 2020, 10(1), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10010057 - 01 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Loss of seed viability, poor and delayed germination, and inaccessibility to high-quality seeds are key bottlenecks limiting all-year-round production of African traditional leafy vegetables (TLVs). Poor quality seeds are the result of several factors including harvest time, storage, and conservation conditions, and seed [...] Read more.
Loss of seed viability, poor and delayed germination, and inaccessibility to high-quality seeds are key bottlenecks limiting all-year-round production of African traditional leafy vegetables (TLVs). Poor quality seeds are the result of several factors including harvest time, storage, and conservation conditions, and seed dormancy. While other factors can be easily controlled, breaking seed dormancy requires thorough knowledge of the seed intrinsic nature and physiology. Here, we synthesized the scattered knowledge on seed dormancy constraints in TLVs, highlighted seed dormancy regulation factors, and developed a conceptual approach for molecular genetic analysis of seed dormancy in TLVs. Several hormones, proteins, changes in chromatin structures, ribosomes, and quantitative trait loci (QTL) are involved in seed dormancy regulation. However, the bulk of knowledge was based on cereals and Arabidopsis and there is little awareness about seed dormancy facts and mechanisms in TLVs. To successfully decipher seed dormancy in TLVs, we used Gynandropsis gynandra to illustrate possible research avenues and highlighted the potential of this species as a model plant for seed dormancy analysis. This will serve as a guideline to provide prospective producers with high-quality seeds. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Pursuing the Potential of Heirloom Cultivars to Improve Adaptation, Nutritional, and Culinary Features of Food Crops
Agronomy 2019, 9(8), 441; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9080441 - 09 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessEssay
Domesticating the Undomesticated for Global Food and Nutritional Security: Four Steps
Agronomy 2019, 9(9), 491; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9090491 - 28 Aug 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Ensuring the food and nutritional demand of the ever-growing human population is a major sustainability challenge for humanity in this Anthropocene. The cultivation of climate resilient, adaptive and underutilized wild crops along with modern crop varieties is proposed as an innovative strategy for [...] Read more.
Ensuring the food and nutritional demand of the ever-growing human population is a major sustainability challenge for humanity in this Anthropocene. The cultivation of climate resilient, adaptive and underutilized wild crops along with modern crop varieties is proposed as an innovative strategy for managing future agricultural production under the changing environmental conditions. Such underutilized and neglected wild crops have been recently projected by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations as ‘future smart crops’ as they are not only hardy, and resilient to changing climatic conditions, but also rich in nutrients. They need only minimal care and input, and therefore, they can be easily grown in degraded and nutrient-poor soil also. Moreover, they can be used for improving the adaptive traits of modern crops. The contribution of such neglected, and underutilized crops and their wild relatives to global food production is estimated to be around 115–120 billion US$ per annum. Therefore, the exploitation of such lesser utilized and yet to be used wild crops is highly significant for climate resilient agriculture and thereby providing a good quality of life to one and all. Here we provide four steps, namely: (i) exploring the unexplored, (ii) refining the unrefined traits, (iii) cultivating the uncultivated, and (iv) popularizing the unpopular for the sustainable utilization of such wild crops as a resilient strategy for ensuring food and nutritional security and also urge the timely adoption of suitable frameworks for the large-scale exploitation of such wild species for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Full article
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