From: Universitat Autonoma De Barcelona via EurekAlert!
Published July 5, 2016 05:06 PM

Characteristics improving bean resistance to drought identified

The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is the most important food legume in the tropics. It is an inexpensive source of proteins and minerals for almost 400 million people, mainly from Africa and Latin America. It is generally cultivated by small farmers and subject to conditions limiting their productivity. Drought affects 60% of bean crops around the world and can cause from 10% in productivity losses to a total of 100% in some cases.

Researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Bean Programme at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia have identified drought-resistant genotypes and the morpho-physiological characteristics related to this resistance. The experiments were conducted in Palmira, Colombia, from June to September in 2012 and 2013, and the results were recently published in Frontiers in Plant Science.

For researcher at the UAB Plant Physiology Laboratory and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture José Arnulfo Polanía, "the experiments demonstrate that there is no dominant morph-physiological characteristic but rather a strategic combination of several characteristics which confers this resistance to drought onto specific varieties of beans". Polanía adds that "we determined which specific characteristics belonged to each area, depending on whether or not the land retained moisture and whether the droughts were intermittent or ongoing".

The study has revealed this strategic combination of characteristics, the key to succeeding in the genetic improvement of drought resistance. After evaluating 36 advanced bean lines, obtained by crossing different varieties, and taking into account the results of different parameters related to the use of water, growth and production, the lines of drought-resistant beans were classified into two groups: water "savers" and "spenders".

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Image: Beans via Stephen Ausmus 

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