Impacts of Grain Legume Research & Development in Developing Countries

Facing global challenge on food production and sustainable agriculture due to drastic climate change such as extreme temperatures, limitations to fresh water supplies and soil erosion, global food security, economy, and environmental sustainability have been recognized among the top national priorities of developing and developed countries alike.

The current research group has identified grain legumes as environmentally friendly crops with high nutrition value and their great potential to combat the aforementioned challenge. Yet, current lack of coordinated focus on grain legumes has compromised human health, nutritional security and sustainable food production. The WUN research group "Legumes: The Hub of Diversification and Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture" has jointly published "Neglecting legumes has compromised human health and sustainable food production" in Nature Plants in 2016 and co-edited a special issue on legumes in Journal of Experimental Botany to response to the situation. The research group has demonstrated a cross-disciplinary approach to tackle global challenges spanning food security, climate change and health.

The current research group pledges to foster and coordinate an international consortium on legume research through the establishment of a communication network. With the organization of WUN Symposium cum Research Summit in 2017, which features a parallel workshop for young scientists to explore the impact of grain legume research and development has in developing countries, and how it contributes to their economic development, environment, and well being, a multi-level, multi-disciplinary academic exchange platform was established. Not only did the early career researchers were educated the latest and future development plans of legumes technology, sustaining collaboration was also built among between the experienced and budding talents.

Further to the success of the WUN Symposium cum Research Summit, the research group has created global awareness of legume research with impact publications. Initiated and co-edited by Prof. Christine Foyer, Prof Henry Nguyen, and Prof Hon-Ming Lam, two Special Issues on Plant, Cell & Environment were issued in 2018 and 2019 (Special Issue on Legumes: Part I and Special Issue on Legumes: Part II), in which three peer-reviewed publications were jointly published by the research group.

Following the issuance of the Special Issues on Plant, Cell & Environment, the research group has maintained the momentum for joint research with fruitful outcomes. In 2019, the research group led by Prof. Hon-Ming Lam and Prof. Ting Fung Chan together with international collaborators, including Prof. Christine Foyer, Prof. Henry Nguyen, and Prof. Gyuhwa Chung jointly announced the world’s first reference-grade wild soybean genome in “A reference-grade wild soybean genome” in Nature Communications. Another joint publication “Construction and comparison of three reference‐quality genome assemblies for soybean” involving Prof. Henry Nguyen, Prof. Hon-Ming Lam, Prof. Scott Jackson, Prof. Rajeev Varshney, and Prof. Ting Fung Chan was published in The Plant Journal. “Modelling predicts that soybean is poised to dominate crop production across Africa” was also published in Plant, Cell & Environment with concerted efforts from the collaboration led by Prof. Christine Foyer and Prof. Hon-Ming Lam, together with 9 WUN partners. Prof. Hon-Ming Lam attended the UWA - ICRISAT Joint-workshop on Mitigating Abiotic Stresses in 2019 as a continuation as a result of the WUN support.


Throughout the project period from 2017-2019, the research group received well recognitions in the international arena, and has joined force with world-renowned scientists to address the crucial role of grain legumes on the tackling of food security issues, from a global perspective. With their concerted efforts, a total of 96 publications and 10 scholarly events have been directly or indirectly arisen from the project. The cross-disciplinary team has significantly catalyzed researches on grain legumes to combat the increasing global challenges on food security and climate change. Building on this solid foundation, members sharing the common vision will endeavor to seek further funding support for the development of an international soybean genomics research center.

CUHK: Prof. CHAN Ting-Fung, School of Life Sciences
CUHK: Prof. Jerome Hui, School of Life Sciences
CUHK: Prof. NGAI Sai-Ming, School of Life Sciences
CUHK: Prof. Jimmy Lee, Department of Computer Science & Engineering
CUHK: Prof. Amos Tai, Earth System Science Programme
CUHK: Prof. Francis Tam, Earth System Science Programme
CUHK: Prof. Derrick Lai, Department of Geography & Resource Management
University of Alberta: Dr. Nat Kav, Faculty of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences
University of Alberta: Dr. Sven Anders, Faculty of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences
University of Leeds: Prof. Christine Foyer, School of Biology
University of Southampton: Dr. Mark Chapman, Academic Unit of Biological Sciences
The University of Western Australia: Prof. Kadambot Siddique, UWA Institute of Agriculture
The University of Western Australia: Dr. Michael Considine, School of Plant Biology
Chinese Academy of Sciences Northeast Institute of Geography & Agroecology: Prof. Fanjiang Kong, Laboratory of Soybean Molecular Breeding
Chonnam National University: Prof. Gyuhwa Chung
Chonnam National University: Prof. Jeong Dong Lee
Fujian Agriculture & Forestry University: Prof. LIAO Hong, Root Biology Center
INTA: Dr. Pablo Tittonell, Natural Resources & Environment Program
INTA: Dr. Nacira Munoz, Institute of Physiology & Plant Genetic Resources
INTA: Dr. Silvina Vargas Gil, Institute of Plant Pathology
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT): Prof. Rajeev Varshney, Genetic Gains Research Program
Jiangnan University: Prof. WANG Jianhua, Jiangsu Provincial Food Safety Research Base
Jiangnan University: Prof. WU Linhai, School of Business
Nanjing Agricultural University: Prof. GAI Junyi, Chinese National Center for Soybean Improvement
Kansas State University: Prof. Vara Prasad, Department of Agronomy
Kazusa DNA Research Institute: Dr. Sachiko Isobe, Laboratory of Plant Genetics & Genomics
KeyGene: Dr. Michiel van Eijk, CSO
Northeast Agricultural University: Prof. Yanming Zhu
The University of Hong Kong: Prof. Wallace Boon-Leong Lim, School of Biological Sciences
The University of Queensland: Dr. Brett Ferguson, School of Agriculture & Food Sciences, The University of Queensland: Prof. Peter Gresshoff, Centre for Integrative Legume Research
University of Exeter: Dr. Michiel Vos, European Centre for Environment & Human Health
University of Georgia: Prof. Scott Jackson, Center for Applied Genetic Technologies
University of Missouri/Soybean Knowledge Base (SoyKB): Dr. Trupti Joshi, School of Medicine Medical Research Office
University of Missouri: Dr. Henry Nguyen, Division of Plant Sciences
University of the Western Cape: Prof. Ndiko Ludidi, Department of Biotechnology
USDA: Prof. Yong-qiang An, Plant Genetics Research
Vitasoy International Holdings Limited: Dr. Joanna Chen

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