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Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.): orphan crop, nutraceutical or just plain food?

Fernand Lambein (UGent) , Silvia Travella (UGent) , Yu-Haey Kuo (UGent) , Marc Van Montagu (UGent) and Marc Heijde (UGent)
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Abstract
Main conclusion Although grass pea is an environmentally successful robust legume with major traits of interest for food and nutrition security, the genetic potential of this orphan crop has long been neglected. Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) is a Neolithic plant that has survived millennia of cultivation and has spread over three continents. It is a robust legume crop that is considered one of the most resilient to climate changes and to be survival food during drought-triggered famines. The hardy penetrating root system allows the cultivation of grass pea in various soil types, including marginal ones. As an efficient nitrogen fixer, it meets its own nitrogen requirements and positively benefits subsequent crops. However, already in ancient India and Greece, overconsumption of the seeds and a crippling neurological disorder, later coined neurolathyrism, had been linked. Overemphasis of their suspected toxic properties has led to disregard the plant’s exceptionally positive agronomic properties and dietary advantages. In normal socio-economic and environmental situations, in which grass pea is part of a balanced diet, neurolathyrism is virtually non-existent. The etiology of neurolathyrism has been oversimplified and the deficiency in methionine in the diet has been overlooked. In view of the global climate change, this very adaptable and nutritious orphan crop deserves more attention. Grass pea can become a wonder crop if the double stigma on its reputation as a toxic plant and as food of the poor can be disregarded. Additionally, recent research has exposed the potential of grass pea as a health-promoting nutraceutical. Development of varieties with an improved balance in essential amino acids and diet may be relevant to enhance the nutritional value without jeopardizing the multiple stress tolerance of this promising crop.
Keywords
Neglected legume, Drought tolerance, Nutrition, Socio-economic disease, Health

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Chicago
Lambein, Fernand, Silvia Travella, Yu-Haey Kuo, Marc Van Montagu, and Marc Heijde. 2019. “Grass Pea (Lathyrus Sativus L.): Orphan Crop, Nutraceutical or Just Plain Food?” Planta.
APA
Lambein, F., Travella, S., Kuo, Y.-H., Van Montagu, M., & Heijde, M. (2019). Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.): orphan crop, nutraceutical or just plain food? Planta.
Vancouver
1.
Lambein F, Travella S, Kuo Y-H, Van Montagu M, Heijde M. Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.): orphan crop, nutraceutical or just plain food? Planta. Springer Nature; 2019;
MLA
Lambein, Fernand et al. “Grass Pea (Lathyrus Sativus L.): Orphan Crop, Nutraceutical or Just Plain Food?” Planta (2019): n. pag. Print.
@article{8599247,
  abstract     = {Main conclusion
Although grass pea is an environmentally successful robust legume with major traits of interest for food and nutrition security, the genetic potential of this orphan crop has long been neglected.

Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) is a Neolithic plant that has survived millennia of cultivation and has spread over three continents. It is a robust legume crop that is considered one of the most resilient to climate changes and to be survival food during drought-triggered famines. The hardy penetrating root system allows the cultivation of grass pea in various soil types, including marginal ones. As an efficient nitrogen fixer, it meets its own nitrogen requirements and positively benefits subsequent crops. However, already in ancient India and Greece, overconsumption of the seeds and a crippling neurological disorder, later coined neurolathyrism, had been linked. Overemphasis of their suspected toxic properties has led to disregard the plant{\textquoteright}s exceptionally positive agronomic properties and dietary advantages. In normal socio-economic and environmental situations, in which grass pea is part of a balanced diet, neurolathyrism is virtually non-existent. The etiology of neurolathyrism has been oversimplified and the deficiency in methionine in the diet has been overlooked. In view of the global climate change, this very adaptable and nutritious orphan crop deserves more attention. Grass pea can become a wonder crop if the double stigma on its reputation as a toxic plant and as food of the poor can be disregarded. Additionally, recent research has exposed the potential of grass pea as a health-promoting nutraceutical. Development of varieties with an improved balance in essential amino acids and diet may be relevant to enhance the nutritional value without jeopardizing the multiple stress tolerance of this promising crop.},
  author       = {Lambein, Fernand and Travella, Silvia and Kuo, Yu-Haey and Van Montagu, Marc and Heijde, Marc},
  issn         = {0032-0935},
  journal      = {Planta},
  language     = {eng},
  publisher    = {Springer Nature},
  title        = {Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.): orphan crop, nutraceutical or just plain food?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00425-018-03084-0},
  year         = {2019},
}

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