The evolution of lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) cultivation in Italy and its effects on the survival of autochthonous populations
- Angela R. Piergiovanni
- Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution
In the world lentil is grown on more than 3 million hectares and is one of the most important, low-cost, food source of protein. In Italy lentil has been cultivated since ancient times, but in the last decades its cultivation has been confined to marginal areas, small islands and hilly, mountainous areas of central and southern Italy. Local varieties are still common and are often greatly appreciated for their taste and cooking qualities. Several accessions from the Santo Stefano di Sessanio area, Abruzzo Region, were collected and phenotypically and genotypically characterized in order to look for the existing variability within and between populations. Image analysis of seeds was also used. Populations grown in Santo Stefano di Sessanio and in the neighbouring area basically share most of their characteristics. However, some of the accessions anonymously gathered from the local market were shown to be different from those collected from farmers. The paper reports and discusses how this local product needs be characterized and promoted in order to avoid fraud that could negatively affect the local economy and put valuable, adapted, genetic resources at risk of erosion.