Home / Actions supported / Projects / LEgume GEnetic REsources as a tool for the development of innovative and (...)
Legerete

LEgume GEnetic REsources as a tool for the development of innovative and sustainable food TEchnological system

Export to PDF

Abstract

Legumes are the second economically most important family of crop plants after the grass family of Poaceae. Grain legumes account for about 33% of proteins assumed in the human diet, and are crucial to maintain global food security (Smykal et al., 2014). Moreover, legumes are key players in sustainable agriculture, as they can fix atmospheric nitrogen, thus increasing soil fertility, and have a positive impact on soil properties and conservation (Sultani et al.,2007). Demand for legumes is expected to increase in developing countries, as a consequence of the demographic growth, but also in the developed countries, given the positive trend towards healthy dieting and food safety. The increased awareness of risks associated with excessive consumption of animal proteins (Daryanto et al., 2015) and with fat accumulation related to the increased intake of energy-dense foods poor in micronutrients and bioactive compounds also plays a determinant role in prompting legume consumption (Pérez-Escamilla 2012). From a nutritional point of view, in fact, legumes provide several bioactive peptides that exert positive effects on human health, such as hypotensive
(ACE inhibitor) activity (Arnoldi et al., 2014) and antithrombotic ability (Malaguti et al., 2014). Diets rich in legumes have been associated with lower cancer incidence, and protease inhibitors are considered to be responsible for this protective action (Souza Lda et al., 2014). In consideration of the aforementioned issues, the cultivation of legumes is nowadays encouraged by several political actions such as the declaration by the FAO of 2016 as the international year of Pulses
(ONU A/RES/68/231). The central role of legumes is reflected by their high representation in ex situ seed collections. Globally, about 1.1 million grain legume accessions are preserved in various gene banks (Smykal et al., 2014). However, this germplasm is still poorly characterized at the genetic and phenotypic level. This ultimately hampers the selection of the most suitable genotypes for breeding purposes and utilization in the agro-industry. Worldwide, most of the legume yield losses are
attributable to low tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses (Amin et al., 2014). The Apulia Region of Italy is a diversity center for many legume species. Indeed, several landraces are still cultivated in marginal areas and represent a useful source for adaptation for local environments and stresses. Information on the nutritional and technological properties of this germplasm is still largely missing. The Department of Soil, Plant and Food Science at the University of Bari, a Partner of this project, has a long tradition in the study of legume genetic variation and the identification of superior
genotypes with respect to adaptation to sustainable farming systems and resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses (Lotti et al., 2008; Pavan et al., 2011; Pavan et al., 2013). Moreover, the same Department is responsible for the collection and conservation of a number Apulian landraces.
Recent progress in the development of genome-scale data sets for several legume species offers important new possibilities for crop improvement. Moreover, organized genome resources, including physical maps and functional genomics tools, will facilitate the isolation of genes for resistance/tolerance to biotic/abiotic stresses as well as for useful agronomics traits. Marker trait associations are a prerequisite for marker-assisted selection (MAS). The availability ofhigh-throughput and cost-effective genotyping platforms, combined with automation in phenotyping methodologies, will increase the uptake of genomic tools into breeding programs, and thus usher in an era of genomics-enabled molecular breeding in the legumes.A drawback of legumes, especially if dried, is the need of prolonged cooking, hardly meeting the modern expectation for foods requiring short preparation times. Therefore, both the scientific research and the industry are constantly engaged for the development of innovative and sustainable solutions and affordable culinary practices, that meet the needs of modern consumers, so as to facilitate legume consumption. The Department of Soil, Plant and Food Science at the University of Bari, a Partner of this project, has recently developed innovative legume-based foods such as burgers (Summo et al., 2016) and functional foods containing fermented legumes (Curiel et al. 2015). As ingredient, legume flours and legume protein extracts may be added to food to increase the nutritional value and provide specific technological properties such as water solubility, water binding and fat binding capacity, emulsification and foaming activity. The principal food application of legume flours and/or legume protein extracts are baby foods, dairy alternatives as vegetarian/vegan beverages or desserts (in which low density is required) and meat products (meat balls and
sausages). In recent years, there is an increasing demand for differentiated food according to value-adding qualities.Consumers take more interest in aspects as nutrition, health and quality of foods (with benefits for individuals and their families) and in environmental concerns (with benefits for the society). The so-called Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) approaches fit into sustainability discourses as tools that help to enlarge the focus of analysis and exhort to see the broad sizes of a complex issue, by considering a wide range of components linked to the object to evaluate it from different perspectives. Life cycle can be seen as an open cycle “from cradle to grave”, articulated in several steps, through which the product interacts with environmental (extraction or addition of substances, land use), economic (the cost to produce a product, implement technology, the profit to sell) and social (employment, workers’ rights) domains. Life cycle methodologies are characterized by a systemic approach useful to integrate sustainability priorities into all phases of production processes, by improving design, innovation and evaluation activities (De Luca et al., 2105). In
particular, by means of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), specific environmental impact categories (as resources depletion, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water footprint) can be measured in order to evaluate different level of sustainability related to several production techniques or products. In this framework, the goals of the project proposal are: (i) the identification and valorization of genotypes with high agronomical, technological, and nutritional value; (ii) the evaluation of the selected genotypes for their potentially beneficial effects on human health; (iii) the
development of technological applications of the selected genotypes through the development of innovative legume-based foods with high service value, able to induce the increase of legume consumption; (iv) the research of possible applications of legume flours and protein extracts as food ingredients or additives. In particular, a germplasm collection of about 400 accessions of different legume species (chickpea, pea, faba bean and lentil), available at the Department of Soil, Plant and Food Science, mostly resulting from collecting missions carried out in the past thirty years. A first mild selection on the collection will derive from general information on accessions (including origin and importance in local economy) and their evaluation in field trials, based on general agronomic traits and suitability to low-input sustainable agricultural systems. Patterns of genetic diversity in these accessions will be detected by means of microsatellite markers and genotyping-by-sequencing, a cutting-edge technology for the detection of DNA polymorphisms (Elshire et al., 2011). This is meant to carry out a second selection on the accessions, aimed to
bring to the next stage those representing most of the genetic diversity. Information on the genetic diversity will be merged with phenotypic screenings addressed to the characterization of germplasm with respect to technological properties, chemical composition and nutritional aspects, in order to detect genomic region and alleles underlying traits of interest to reach the project goals. The selected accessions will be characterized in term of chemical, nutritional and technological properties of the flours and protein extracts and, on the accessions characterized by high nutritional
values, the assessment of the potential beneficial effect by “in vitro” and "in vivo" approaches will be also carried out. On the base of the chemical, nutritional, heathy and technological properties, at least 30 accession will be selected for the develop of technological applications of the selected legume accessions through the development of innovative legume based foods with high service value and the research of possible applications of legume flours and protein extracts as food ingredients or additives. The possibility to use legumes in the production of several food types, as main but not exclusive ingredient, can improve the nutritional profile of legumes. In the formulation of ready-to-eat or ready-to-cook legume-based products the mix of legumes and cereals, which have different limiting amino acids, has to be preferred (Summo et al., 2016). Legumes, in fact, are known to be rich in lysine but deficient in sulphur-containing amino acids.
Cereals, on the other hand, are known to be deficient in lysine, but are rich in cysteine and methionine (Campbell-Platt, 1994). All the proposed solution will be objectively evaluated by means of specific environmental and economic indicators (through LCA, LCC and other methods) as regards their real transferability and their contribute to the sustainability of the system.

Action

WP 1: Research and Data analysis
• Actions/activities:
• Key results and deliverables

Please remind quickly the main activities/ task and the deliverables expected and obtained in the WP
Briefly explain how the activities were carried out, how the difficulties were resolved if any, and if deliverables were not obtained, explain why.

WP 2 – Capacity Building and Knowledge Exchange

• Actions/activities:
• Key results and deliverables
Please remind quickly the main activities/ task and the deliverables expected and obtained in the WP
Briefly explain how the activities were carried out, how the difficulties were resolved if any, and if deliverables were not obtained, explain why.

WP 3: Communication and Knowledge Dissemination
• Actions/activities:
• Key results and deliverables

Please remind quickly the main activities/ task and the deliverables expected and obtained in the WP
Briefly explain how the activities were carried out, how the difficulties were resolved if any, and if deliverables were not obtained, explain why.

WP 4: Coordination

• Actions/activities:
• Key results and deliverables

Please remind quickly the main activities/ task and the deliverables expected and obtained in the WP
Briefly explain how the activities were carried out, how the difficulties were resolved if any, and if deliverables were not obtained, explain why.

Project Number : 1507-200

Year : 2015

Type of funding : AAP

Project type : AAP CARIPLO-CARASSO

Start date :
01 Jan 2017

End date :
31 Dec 2019

Flagship project :
Non

Project leader :
Riccardo Guidetti

Project leader's institution :
University of Milan

Project leader's RU :
Hors_réseau

Budget allocated :
133333.33333333 €

Total budget allocated ( including co-financing) :
400000 €

Funding :
Labex