This year has been designated as the International Year of Pulses (grain legumes) by the 68th UN General Assembly. The purpose was to increase public awareness of the health benefits of legumes as part of their diet as well as their importance as part of sustainable food production and food security. With this in mind a group of scientists met for a three day meeting in November 2015 to set a framework for future legume research. The meeting, funded by the World Universities Network, was organized by Dr Michael Considine from the University of Western Australia and hosted by Zhejiang University in China. Prof. Karl Kunert and Dr Juan Vorster from the Molecular Plant Physiology group at FABI attended and presented their work relating to soybean nitrogen fixation and nodule development under drought conditions. 

The overall goals of the meeting were (1) to define the knowledge gaps in capturing legume genetic diversity for sustainable food crops, (2) to identify state-of-the-art techniques to address legume crop improvement towards 2050, and (3) to establish a program of short-term exchanges, particularly of early-career researchers, between international laboratories to maximize technology and knowledge transfer.

Another outcome of this meeting is community written article published in the new journal, Nature Plants, to highlight the role of legumes in nutrition and health, as well as its importance in sustainable development and food security. The article can be found at:

CH Foyer, H-M Lam, HT Nguyen, KHM Siddique, RK Varshney, TD Colmer, W Cowling, H Bramley, TA Mori, JM Hodgson, JW Cooper, AJ Miller, K Kunert, J Vorster, C Cullis, JA Ozga, ML Wahlqvist, Y Lian, H Shou, K Shi, J Yu, N Fodor, BN Kaiser, F-L Wong, B Valliyodan, M Considine. (2016) Neglecting legumes has compromised human health and sustainable food production. Nature Plants 2(112):16122. 10.1038/NPLANTS.2016.112