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Abstract, Elsvier, 2016

According to a recent estimate, there are 925 million people on the globe who live in a state of hunger (Hunger Statistic World Food Programme). Moreover, an additional 2 billion people are expected to be added by 2050 (Eldakak et al., 2013). To meet the challenges to global food security and safety in this scenario, plant and crop genetic engineering efforts have to be significantly greater than in the past. Domesticated plants, commonly defined as crops, produce the largest part of agricultural products. Not only they directly deliver the major part of food resources for human nutrition and the ingredients for animal feed, but also indirectly provide bulk materials for biofuels, fiber, and building materials. In addition to this, some cultivated plants are farmed and processed as medicinal production. Crops, therefore, are essential for survival, productivity, growth, and development of the world’s food, health, and economic systems. In the past centuries, man has used many plant species in agriculture, but today most human food supply is derived from a relatively small number of plant species. Until a few years ago breeding has been limited to a low number of vegetable species, and agronomic technology has been directed mainly to achieve higher production yield and excellent postharvest quality, with scarce or no attention to other features (e.g., drought tolerance, nutrient use efficiency, durable pest and disease resistance, environmental outcomes), all factors now recognized as greatly affecting the biodiversity and the sustainability of food productions