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Growth, yield and seed composition of native Australian legumes with potential as grain crops

Authors

  • Lindsay W Bell,

    Corresponding author
    1. CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Toowoomba, QLD 4350, Australia
    • CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, PO Box 102, Toowoomba, QLD 4350, Australia.
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  • Megan H Ryan,

    1. School of Plant Biology and Institute of Agriculture M081, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
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  • Richard G Bennett,

    1. School of Plant Biology and Institute of Agriculture M081, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
    2. CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Wembley, WA 6913, Australia
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  • Margaret T Collins,

    1. Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA), University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
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  • Heather J Clarke

    1. Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA), University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
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    • University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, WA 6959, Australia


Abstract

BACKGROUND: Many Australian native legumes grow in arid and nutrient-poor environments. Yet few Australian herbaceous legumes have been investigated for domestication potential. This study compared growth and reproductive traits, grain yield and seed composition of 17 native Australian legumes with three commercial grain legumes.

RESULTS: Seed yields of seven native legumes were > 40% of Cicer arietnum, with highest seed yields and harvest indices in Glycine sp. (14.4 g per plant, 0.54 g g−1) and Lotus cruentus (10.2 g per plant, 0.65 g g−1). Five native species flowered earlier than field pea (Pisum sativa) (109 days), though many were slower to flower and set seed. Largest seeds were found in Glycine canescens (17 mg), with seed of other native species 14 times smaller than commercial cultivars. Seed composition of many native legumes was similar to commercial cultivars (200–330 g protein kg−1 dry weight (DW), 130–430 g dietary fibre kg−1 DW). Two Cullen species had high fat content (>110 g kg−1 DW) and Trigonella sauvissima had the highest crude protein content (370 g kg−1 DW).

CONCLUSION: The seed composition and reproductive traits of some wild native Australian legumes suggest they could offer potential as grain crops for soils and environments where the current grain legumes are uneconomic. Further evaluation of genetic diversity, especially for seed size, overall productivity, and reproductive development is needed. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry

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