Genomic resources for improving food legume crops
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Food legumes are the main source of dietary protein for a large part of the world's population, and also play an important role in maintaining soil fertility through nitrogen fixation. However, legume yields and production are often limited by large genotypexenvironment (G x E) interactions that influence the expression of agronomically important, complex quantitative traits. Consequently, genetic improvement has been slower than expected. Molecular marker technology enables genetic dissection of such complex traits, allowing breeders to identify genomic regions on the chromosome that have main effects or interactive effects. A number of genomic resources have been developed in several legume species during the last two decades, and provide a platform for exploiting marker technology. The present paper reviews the available genomic resources in food legumes: linkage maps, high-throughput sequencing technologies, expression sequence tag (EST) databases, genome sequences, DNA chips, targeting induced local lesions in genomes (TILLING), bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) libraries and others. It also describes how these resources are being used to tag and map genes/quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for domesticated and other agronomically important traits. This information is important to genetic improvement efforts aiming at improving food and nutrition security worldwide.
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