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Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L.) DC.) for food and nutritional security: synthesis of past research and future direction

Tanzi, Alberto Stefano; Eagleton, Graham Ewen; Ho, Wai Kuan; Wong, Quin Nee; Mayes, Sean; Massawe, Festo


Alberto Stefano Tanzi

Graham Ewen Eagleton

Wai Kuan Ho

Quin Nee Wong

Associate Professor

Festo Massawe


Reliance on a handful of “major” crops has led to decreased diversity in crop species, agricultural systems and human diets. To reverse this trend, we need to encourage the greater use of minor, “orphan”, underutilised species. These could contribute to an increase in crop diversity within agricultural systems, to improve human diets, and to support more sustainable and resilient food production systems. Among these underutilised species, winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) has long been proposed as a crop for expanded use particularly in the humid tropics. It is an herbaceous perennial legume of equatorial environments and has been identified as a rich source of protein, with most parts of the plant being edible when appropriately prepared. However, to date, limited progress in structured improvement programmes has restricted the expansion of winged bean beyond its traditional confines. In this paper, we discuss the reasons for this and recommend approaches for better use of its genetic resources and related Psophocarpus species in developing improved varieties. We review studies on the growth, phenology, nodulation and nitrogen-fixation activity, breeding programmes, and molecular analyses. We then discuss prospects for the crop based on the greater understanding that these studies have provided and considering modern plant-breeding technologies and approaches. We propose a more targeted and structured research approach to fulfil the potential of winged bean to contribute to food security.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2019
Journal Planta
Print ISSN 0032-0935
Electronic ISSN 1432-2048
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 250
Issue 3
Pages 911–931
APA6 Citation Tanzi, A. S., Eagleton, G. E., Ho, W. K., Wong, Q. N., Mayes, S., & Massawe, F. (2019). Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L.) DC.) for food and nutritional security: synthesis of past research and future direction. Planta, 250(3), 911–931.
Keywords Winged bean; Psophocarpus tetragonolobus; Underutilised legume; Crop improvement; Food security
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