A psammophyte Agriophyllum squarrosum (L.) Moq. a potential food crop

Guoxiong Chen, Jiecai Zhao, Xin Zhao, Pengshan Zhao, Ruijun Duan, Eviatar Nevo, Xiaofei Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Agriophyllum squarrosum is an annual psammophyte adapted to mobile sand dunes in arid and semi-arid regions of Central Asia. The species has evolved a range of physiological, morphological, and ecological adaptations to allow it to be a pioneer species of unstable, nutrient-poor, drought-prone and hot sand dunes. Local populations in the sandy desert regions of China consume the seed of the species during periods of food shortage, and refer to the plant as “shami” in Chinese, which translates as “sand rice”. The sand rice seeds have high nutritional value, containing around 23 % protein, 9 % lipid, 45 % carbohydrates, 8 % crude fiber and 5 % ash. The protein fraction includes the full range of essential amino acids required in the human diet. The lipid fraction comprises mostly polyunsaturated fatty acid. The ash fraction is rich in iron. Sand rice is a good candidate species for domestication to provide a food crop resilient to future climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-676
Number of pages8
JournalGenetic Resources and Crop Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Agriophyllum squarrosum
  • Chenopodiaceae
  • Heat tolerance
  • Quinoa
  • Sandy desert
  • Wild plant domestication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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