Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

F. J. Zeller:

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench): utilization, genetics, breeding


Although common buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a stable food in some countries, its cultivation and breeding has been neglected. The main reason for this is the low seed yield. Due to heterostyly and open-pollination by insects the seed-set is only 12 %. Through the discovery of a wild species, E. bomotropicum, which is homostylic and self-fertile, the self-fertility mechanism controlled by a single gene can be transferred from the wild into the cultivated species. In this way the yield can significantly be increased in the future. The cultivated buckwheat originates from the wild species E. esculentum ssp. ancestrale still distributed in Southern China. Together with E. homotropicum these two species serve as an important genetic reservoir of genetic resources belonging to the primary genepool and are already being used in breeding.

E. esculentum is not only an edible crop plant, but also a multi-purpose medicinal plant because of its antioxidative polyphenolic compounds (flavonoids) with potential benefits to human health. The most well-known drug is rutin.

Key words: origin, Fagopyrum species, genetic resources, phenolic compounds.