Mungbean (Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczek) is an important pulse crop throughout South and Southeast Asia.
It is estimated that about 2.66 million hectares of mungbean are cultivated in this area, of which 1.94 million hectares are in India (Park, 1978). The yield of mungbean in Southeast Asia is not high, varying from 0.3 to 0.7 tons per hectare.
This legume can be consumed by many ways including dry beans as dahl, sprouts as a vegetable, bean cake, confectionaries, noodles, and green beans.
In the Philippines mungbean is used to prepare infant food (Payumo, 1978). Because of its short growth duration (2–3 months), mungbean is considered to be a suitable crop for rotation with cereal crops in Tropical Asia (Park, 1978).
Many studies have been conducted on the nutritional quality of mungbean protein (Acharya et al., 1942) (Patwardhan, 1962) (Sevillaeusebio et al., 1968). Germplasm screening of 1845 accessions shows that the protein content of mungbean ranges from 19.5 to 28.5 percent of the oven dry seed weight (AVRDC, 1975). Like other legumes, sulfur containing amino acids (methionine and cystine) limit the protein quality of mungbean.
The chemical score is about 32 percent of egg portein (FAO, 1970) or 40 percent of FAO provisional pattern (Kaul, 1973), which is slightly lower than most legumes.
The nutritional quality of mungbean protein, estimated by animal feeding experiments, varies according to experimental conditions.
In diets with 10% protein provided by cooked mungbean, we have found a net protein utilization comparable to soybean protein (AVRDC, 1976).
Blackgram (Vigna mungo) is a close relative of mungbean.
V. mungo and V. radiata can be crossed interspecifically when mungbean is used as the female parent (Ahn et al., 1978) (Chen, et al., 1978). Research has been conducted at the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC) to study the possibility of improving mungbean's agronomic as well as nutritional characters through inter-specific hybridization.
Results of experiments on protein quality of the two species, conducted at AVRDC, are summarized in this report.
The potential for improvement of mungbean protein quality by interspecific crosses is discussed.