Advanced breeding paves the way for disease-resistant beans

phys.org | 10/24/2018 | Staff
loranseen (Posted by) Level 3
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ETH researchers are involved in the development and implementation of a method to efficiently breed for disease-resistant beans in different regions of the world. Their work will help to improve the livelihood and food security of smallholders in developing countries.

For many people in Africa and Latin America, beans are an important staple. Historically described as "the meat of the poor," beans are rich in protein and minerals, affordable and suitably filling. That is why they are served daily, often with several meals.

Regions - Plant - Diseases - Yields - Example

In many regions, however, plant diseases severely reduce bean yields. For example, the dreaded angular leaf spot disease can cause yield losses of up to 80 percent—especially in Africa, where smallholders rarely have the opportunity to protect their crops with fungicides.

Working with Bodo Raatz and his team at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), ETH researchers from the group led by Bruno Studer, Professor of Molecular Plant Breeding, investigated the resistance of beans to angular leaf spot disease. Their findings are now enabling disease-resistant bean varieties to be bred more rapidly and selectively for the world's various bean-producing regions.

Method - Analyses - Beans - Varieties - Profiles

Their method is built upon genome analyses of those beans that are potentially suitable for breeding new, resistant varieties. The resulting genetic profiles provide information as to whether the progeny from crossbreeding two varieties will be resistant to the pathogenic fungus's different, locally occurring strains (known as pathotypes).

Michelle Nay, who carried out the project as part of her doctoral thesis in Studer's group, started by gathering as many different bean seeds as possible from CIAT's seed repository. In total, she collected 316 different varieties that displayed characteristics suitable for breeding resistance to the fungus that causes angular leaf spot disease.

Nay - Beans - Collection - Uganda - Colombia

Next, Nay planted the beans from her collection in Uganda and Colombia, both in greenhouses and in the field. Her aim...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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