Building a botanical foundation for perennial agriculture: Global inventory of wild, perennial herbaceous Fabaceae species
- Concerns about soil health and stability are focusing attention on crops that deliver both agricultural products and ecological services. Deep rooted, perennial plants that build soil organic matter, support diverse below-ground microbial communities, and produce edible seeds are key components underpinning ecological intensification; however, few perennial, herbaceous crops have been domesticated for food.
- To facilitate development of edible, perennial, herbaceous crops, including perennial grains, we constructed an online resource of wild, perennial, herbaceous species – the Perennial Agriculture Project Global Inventory (PAPGI; http://www.tropicos.org/Project/PAPGI). The first component of this project focuses on wild, perennial, herbaceous Fabaceae species. We extracted taxonomic names and descriptors from the International Legume Database and Information Service. Names were added to PAPGI, a special project within the botanical database TROPICOS, where they link to specimen records and ethnobotanical and toxicological data. PAPGI includes 6,644 perennial, herbaceous Fabaceae species. We built a searchable database of more than 60 agriculturally important traits. Here we highlight food and forage uses for 314 legume species, and toxicological data for 278 species.
- The novel contribution of PAPGI is its focus on wild, perennial herbaceous species that generally have not entered the domestication process but that hold promise for development as perennial food crops. By extracting botanical information relevant for agriculture we provide a dynamic resource for breeders and plant scientists working to advance ecological intensification of agriculture, and for conservation managers working to preserve wild species of potential agricultural importance.