Grain legumes were domesticated in parallel with cereals in several regions of the world and formed the economic basis of early farming cultures. Since then, legumes have played a vital role in human and animal diets and in fostering agrobiodiversity. Increasing grain legume cultivation will be crucial to safeguard nutritional security and the resilience of agricultural ecosystems across the globe. A better understanding of the molecular underpinnings of domestication and crop evolution of grain legumes may be translated into practical approaches in modern breeding programs to stabilize yield, which is threatened by evolving pathogens and changing climates. During recent decades, domestication research in all crops has greatly benefited from the fast progress in genomic technologies. Yet still, many questions surrounding the domestication and diversification of legumes remain unanswered. In this review, we assess the potential of genomic approaches in grain legume research. We describe the centers of origin and the crucial domestication traits of grain legumes. In addition, we survey the effect of domestication on both above-ground and below-ground traits that have economic importance. Finally, we discuss open questions in grain legume domestication and diversification and outline how to bridge the gap between the preservation of historic crop diversity and their utilization in modern plant breeding.
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- domestication syndrome
- grain legume