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Obtaining vegetable proteins from grain legumes

Obtaining quality proteins from grain legumes for both human and animal consumption is the aim of the Grain Legumes project, financed by the European Union VI Framework Programme for Technological Research and Development in which the Public University of Navarre is a participant.

The project, which unites research teams from 67 institutions from 18 European countries, is a response to the challenges faced by the European Union in obtaining quality plant proteins, given that the EU currently imports about 70% of the vegetable protein that it consumes. The Grain Legumes project, financed within the Food Quality and Safety priority, has the aim of promoting specific actions in order to enhance the potential of grain legumes as a source of protein. In concrete, the idea is to integrate European research in the field of grain legumes in three ways: firstly, to identify the optimum parameters for legumes regarding their food quality and safety; secondly, to investigate the variation in the composition of the seeds and the factors affecting them; finally, to develop genomic, post-genomic and bio-information tools in order to enhance production and quality. In order to achieve these objectives, research by the various groups addresses fields as disparate as molecular investigation and the agricultural features of grain legumes. In this context, the research group at the Public University of Navarre is participating in the work programme on abiotic stress. In the latter, the enhancement patterns in production and quality in relation to environmentally limiting conditions is assessed, especially in drought conditions, this research group being internationally recognised for their knowledge of the mechanisms determining legume responses to these environmental limitations. Less fertilisers,Beyond their potential as sources of quality vegetable proteins and from an agricultural production perspective, the use of legumes reduces the need to use fertilisers and the incorporation of legumes into crop rotation substantially reduces the incidence of diseases and plagues. The combination of these effects has enormous benefits in terms of the environmental impact of agricultural crops. However, grain legumes are underused in Europe today, fundamentally due to a lack of consistency in production yields.