Revisiting the versatile buckwheat: reinvigorating genetic gains through integrated breeding and genomics approach

Abstract

Main conclusion

Emerging insights in buckwheat molecular genetics allow the integration of genomics driven breeding to revive this ancient crop of immense nutraceutical potential from Asia.

Out of several thousand known edible plant species, only four crops-rice, wheat, maize and potato provide the largest proportion of daily nutrition to billions of people. While these crops are the primary supplier of carbohydrates, they lack essential amino acids and minerals for a balanced nutrition. The overdependence on only few crops makes the future cropping systems vulnerable to the predicted climate change. Diversifying food resources through incorporation of orphan or minor crops in modern cropping systems is one potential strategy to improve the nutritional security and mitigate the hostile weather patterns. One such crop is buckwheat, which can contribute to the agricultural sustainability as it grows in a wide range of environments, requires relatively low inputs and possess balanced amino acid and micronutrient profiles. Additionally, gluten-free nature of protein and nutraceutical properties of secondary metabolites make the crop a healthy alternative of wheat-based diet in developed countries. Despite enormous potential, efforts for the genetic improvement of buckwheat are considerably lagged behind the conventional cereal crops. With the draft genome sequences in hand, there is a great scope to speed up the progress of genetic improvement of buckwheat. This article outlines the state of the art in buckwheat research and provides concrete perspectives how modern breeding approaches can be implemented to accelerate the genetic gain. Our suggestions are transferable to many minor and underutilized crops to address the issue of limited genetic gain and low productivity.

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Acknowledgements

The small millets and underutilized crops breeding program of DCJ is financially supported by Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi. MZ, VM and JD acknowledges the grants received from National Key R&D program of China (2017YFE0117600), National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 31572457 and 31871536) and European Union Horizon 2020 (grant No. 771367). The authors are thankful to two anonymous reviewers for their critical and constructive comments.

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Joshi, D.C., Chaudhari, G.V., Sood, S. et al. Revisiting the versatile buckwheat: reinvigorating genetic gains through integrated breeding and genomics approach. Planta 250, 783–801 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00425-018-03080-4

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Keywords

  • Buckwheat
  • Genetic gain
  • Gluten free
  • Nutritional security
  • Underutilized crops