Transforming Agriculture, Perennially
Long Perennial Roots in Soil

The Global Inventory Project

The Global Inventory Project is an ambitious, large-scale, global collaboration between The Land Institute, the Missouri Botanical Garden (one of the world’s largest research botanical gardens), and Saint Louis University.

The project seeks to identify wild, herbaceous perennial species that are strong candidates for pre-breeding and eventual use in perennial crop polycultures in temperate and tropical climates. The project brings together scientists working to develop perennial grain, legume, and oilseed crops at The Land Institute with the growing resources accumulated by the botanical garden, museum, and germplasm conservation communities.

Where the Work Is Headed

The long-term goal of this project is to advance sustainable agriculture and ecosystem security through the incorporation of herbaceous and shrubby perennial grain, legume, and oilseed species into large-scale contemporary agriculture (Jackson 1980; Glover et al. 2010).

Because perennial grain, legume, and oilseed-producing species are not well-represented among contemporary domesticates (Van Tassel et al. 2010), targeted breeding programs in wild, previously undomesticated species offer one major pathway to the development of perennial crops.

The Process

In progress through 2018, the first stage of The Global Inventory Project aims to:

  1. Generate a global checklist of perennial, herbaceous, or shrubby grain (Poaceae), legume (Fabaceae), and oilseed (Asteraceae) taxa;
  2. Identify a “short-list” of candidate species for pre-breeding and domestication based on the careful evaluation of traits related to crop yield and quality, ecophysiology, ease of domestication, known prior food use or toxicity issues, and access, among others;
  3. Build a collection of seeds of short-listed species for use in pre-breeding programs housed at The Land Institute; and
  4. Plan and initiate long-term experiment(s) designed to develop and test theory addressing evolutionary processes in perennial taxa.


This work is funded by the Perennial Agriculture Project in conjunction with the Malone Family Land Preservation Foundation, The Land Institute, and the Saint Louis University Center for Sustainability Research Innovation Fund.

Learn more about The Land Institute’s work to develop perennial polycultures.

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Listen to an update from Allison Miller at the Global Inventory Project at the 2018 Prairie Festival.

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