Breeding forage and grain legumes to increase EU's and China's protein self-sufficiency - EUCLEG

H2020 SC2 FOOD

Breeding forage and grain legumes to increase EU’s and China’s protein self sufficiency
EU project No 727312
38 partners
Coordinator: Bernadette Julier, INRA Lusignan, France
Duration: 2017-2022

The strategic goal of EUCLEG is to reduce Europe's and China's dependency on protein imports by developing efficient breeding strategies for legume crops of major economic importance in animal feed and human food. The project's strategy rests on four improvement axes: crop diversification, crop productivity, yield stability and protein quality of both forage (alfalfa and red clover) and grain (pea, faba bean and soybean) legumes.


These are the objectives of EUCLEG:

At the scientific level:

  • Broaden the genetic base of legume crops and analyse the genetic diversity of promising European and Chinese legume accessions using: i)phenotypic traits that contribute to increase yield, quality for feed and food, stress tolerance evaluated in Multi-site trials; ii) molecular markers.
  • Analyse the genetic architecture of key breeding traits using association studies based on candidate genes and genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Molecular markers related to phenotypic traits will be identified.
  • Evaluate the benefits brought by genomic selection (GS) to create new legume varieties.

At the technological level:

  • Develop searchable databases containing passport data, as well as agronomic and genetic features in order to facilitate exchanges of genetic resources between Europe and China.
  • Develop molecular tools (high-throughput genotyping through genotyping sequencing (GBS) for forage legumes and faba beans) and data (reference genome sequence of alfalfa, GBS polymorphism for forage legumes and faba bean, single nucleotide polymorphsm - SNP - arrays for pea and soybean) to increase resource levels sufficiently for molecular breeding. These markers will be used to inform us of genetic diversity and to decipher trait architecture.

At the applied level, in order to help breeders implement marker-assisted selection, including genomic selection in vieuw of creation of new varieties in the long term, the project will:

  • Develop tools for genotyping
  • Implement data management and analysis
  • Last but not least, EUCLEG will explore the potential for new uses of forage species for human nutrition. Indeed, processed protein extracts have a good nutritive value for human consumption in terms of plant protein intake (amino acid composition close to that of dairy milk), making them a good alternative to meat and milk alleviating negative impacts of agriculture on the environment.


Role of Ghent University

Phenotyping a large collection of field beans (faba beans)


Prof. Dirk Reheul
Department Plants and Crops
Phone number: +3292646096