African legumes: a vital but under-utilized resource

Sprent, Janet I.; Odee, David W.; Dakora, Felix D.. 2010 African legumes: a vital but under-utilized resource. Journal of Experimental Botany, 61 (5). 1257-1265.

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Although nodulated legumes have been used by indigenous peoples in Africa for centuries, their full potential has never been realized. With modern technology there is scope for rapid improvement of both plant and microbial germplasm. This review gives examples of some recent developments in the form of case studies; these range from multipurpose human food crops, such as cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.), through to beverages (teas) that are also income-generating such as rooibos (Aspalathus linearis (Burm. f.) R. Dahlgren, honeybush (Cyclopia Vent. spp.), and the widely used food additive gum arabic (Acacia senegal (L.) Willd.). These and other potential crops are well-adapted to the many different soil and climatic conditions of Africa, in particular, drought and low nutrients. All can nodulate and fix nitrogen, with varying degrees of effectiveness and using a range of bacterial symbionts. The further development of these and other species is essential, not only for African use, but also to retain the agricultural diversity that is essential for a changing world that is being increasingly dominated by a few crops such as soybean.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Watt
ISSN: 0022-0957
Additional Keywords: Acacia senegal, cowpea, gum arabic, honeybush, nodulation, rooibos, Vigna
NORA Subject Terms: Botany
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 29 Mar 2011 14:28 +0 (UTC)

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