Jan 24, 2021

Impacts of Grain Legume Research & Development in Developing Countries


Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash

Facing a global challenge on food production and sustainable agriculture due to drastic climate change such as extreme temperatures, limitations to freshwater supplies and soil erosion, global food security, economy, and environmental sustainability have been recognized among the top national priorities of developing and developed countries alike.

The current research group has identified grain legumes as environmentally friendly crops with high nutrition value and their great potential to combat the aforementioned challenge. Yet, the current lack of coordinated focus on grain legumes has compromised human health, nutritional security and sustainable food production.

The WUN research group “Legumes: The Hub of Diversification and Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture” has jointly published “Neglecting legumes has compromised human health and sustainable food production” in Nature Plants in 2016 and co-edited a special issue on legumes in Journal of Experimental Botany to response to the situation. The research group has demonstrated a cross-disciplinary approach to tackle global challenges spanning food security, climate change and health.

The current research group pledges to foster and coordinate an international consortium on legume research through the establishment of a communication network. With the organization of WUN Symposium cum Research Summit in 2017, which features a parallel workshop for young scientists to explore the impact of grain legume research and development has in developing countries, and how it contributes to their economic development, environment, and well being, a multi-level, multi-disciplinary academic exchange platform was established. Not only did the early career researchers educate the latest and future development plans of legumes technology, sustaining collaboration was also built between the experienced and budding talents.

Further to the success of the WUN Symposium cum Research Summit, the research group has created global awareness of legume research with impact publications. Initiated and co-edited by Prof. Christine Foyer, Prof Henry Nguyen, and Prof Hon-Ming Lam, two Special Issues on Plant, Cell & Environment were issued in 2018 and 2019 (Special Issue on Legumes: Part I and Special Issue on Legumes: Part II), in which three peer-reviewed publications were jointly published by the research group. Following the issuance of the Special Issues on Plant, Cell & Environment, the research group has maintained the momentum for joint research with fruitful outcomes.

In 2019, the research group led by Prof. Hon-Ming Lam and Prof. Ting Fung Chan together with international collaborators, including Prof. Christine Foyer, Prof. Henry Nguyen, and Prof. Gyuhwa Chung jointly announced the world’s first reference-grade wild soybean genome in “A reference-grade wild soybean genome” in Nature Communications.

Another joint publication “Construction and comparison of three reference‐quality genome assemblies for soybean” involving Prof. Henry Nguyen, Prof. Hon-Ming Lam, Prof. Scott Jackson, Prof. Rajeev Varshney, and Prof. Ting Fung Chan was published in The Plant Journal. “Modelling predicts that soybean is poised to dominate crop production across Africa” was also published in Plant, Cell & Environment with concerted efforts from the collaboration led by Prof. Christine Foyer and Prof. Hon-Ming Lam, together with 9 WUN partners. Prof. Hon-Ming Lam attended the UWA – ICRISAT Joint-workshop on Mitigating Abiotic Stresses in 2019 as a continuation as a result of the WUN support.

Throughout the project period from 2017-2019, the research group received recognition in the international arena and has joined forces with world-renowned scientists to address the crucial role of grain legumes in tackling food security issues from a global perspective.

With their concerted efforts, a total of 96 publications and 10 scholarly events have directly or indirectly arisen from the project. The cross-disciplinary team has significantly catalyzed researches on grain legumes to combat the increasing global challenges on food security and climate change. Building on this solid foundation, members sharing the common vision will endeavor to seek further funding support for the development of an international soybean genomics research center.

Who's involved

Prof. CHAN Ting-Fung, School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Prof. Jerome Hui, School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Prof. NGAI Sai-Ming, School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Prof. Jimmy Lee, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Prof. Amos Tai, Earth System Science Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Prof. Francis Tam, Earth System Science Programme, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Prof. Derrick Lai, Department of Geography & Resource Management, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Dr. Nat Kav, Faculty of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta
Dr. Sven Anders, Faculty of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta
Prof. Christine Foyer, School of Biology, University of Leeds
Dr. Mark Chapman, Academic Unit of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton
Prof. Kadambot Siddique, UWA Institute of Agriculture, The University of Western Australia
Dr. Michael Considine, School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia
Prof. Fanjiang Kong, Laboratory of Soybean Molecular Breeding, Chinese Academy of Sciences Northeast Institute of Geography & Agroecology
Prof. Gyuhwa Chung, Chonnam National University
Prof. Jeong Dong Lee, Chonnam National University
Prof. LIAO Hong, Root Biology Center, Fujian Agriculture & Forestry University
Dr. Pablo Tittonell, Natural Resources & Environment Program, INTA
Dr. Nacira Munoz, Institute of Physiology & Plant Genetic Resources, INTA
Dr. Silvina Vargas Gil, Institute of Plant Pathology, INTA
Prof. Rajeev Varshney, Genetic Gains Research Program, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
Prof. WANG Jianhua, Jiangsu Provincial Food Safety Research Base, Jiangnan University
Prof. WU Linhai, School of Business, Jiangnan University
Prof. GAI Junyi, Chinese National Center for Soybean Improvement, Nanjing Agricultural University
Prof. Vara Prasad, Department of Agronomy, Kansas State University
Dr. Sachiko Isobe, Laboratory of Plant Genetics & Genomics, Kazusa DNA Research Institute
Dr. Michiel van Eijk, CSO, KeyGene
Prof. Yanming Zhu, Northeast Agricultural University
Prof. Wallace Boon-Leong Lim, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Hong Kong
Dr. Brett Ferguson, School of Agriculture & Food Sciences, The University of Queensland
Prof. Peter Gresshoff, Centre for Integrative Legume Research, The University of Queensland
Dr. Michiel Vos, European Centre for Environment & Human Health, University of Exeter
Prof. Scott Jackson, Center for Applied Genetic Technologies, University of Georgia
Dr. Trupti Joshi, School of Medicine Medical Research Office, University of Missouri/Soybean Knowledge Base (SoyKB)
Dr. Henry Nguyen, Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri
Prof. Ndiko Ludidi, Department of Biotechnology, University of the Western Cape
Prof. Yong-qiang An, Plant Genetics Research, USDA
Dr. Joanna Chen, Vitasoy International Holdings Limited