Old beans can have new uses

Crop the wild relatives of the blog bean topic

September 23, 2021 – Each year, the Crop Science Society of America celebrates Crop Wild Relative Week to draw attention to the importance of these ancient parents to today’s cultures. September 22sd, 2021 Sustainable, Secure Food Blog highlights the importance of old beans in breeding new types of bean crops.

According to blogger Miranda Haus, “Beans were first domesticated about 8,000 years ago in Central and South America. Meanwhile, humans have focused on selecting beans that are bigger, tastier, and easier to harvest.

One problem that has been difficult for breeders to overcome is the reduction in yield losses due to fungal root pathogens. One of them is Fusarium root rot and Fusarium wilt. In some cases, root rot caused by Fusarium can cause a farmer to lose their entire crop.

Every crop we eat once grew in nature, undisturbed. These versions of crops are called Crop Wild Relatives. Over the past 10,000 years, humans have domesticated food crops to make them easier to grow, harvest, and even more nutritious. During domestication, humans took only selected individuals from the entire population and began to grow and cultivate plants from this subset of seeds.

By selecting the tastiest or most productive beans, farmers inadvertently reduced genetic diversity. This does not only apply to beans, it applies to all cultivated species. As an example, consider the aliens who come to Earth and kidnap the population of a small town to populate a new planet. No small town in the world can represent the genetic diversity of our entire planet! So you can see that the new planet would suffer from reduced genetic diversity. This is what happened with the diversity of crops during domestication.

Wild beans have retained greater genetic diversity and may exhibit resistance to fusarium root rot, a characteristic not present in cultivated beans.

The USDA operates gene banks across the United States. which contain collections of seeds from all over the world. These collections are freely available to anyone, and the USDA works closely with researchers to create feature catalogs for the seeds within their collections.

Haus’s team evaluated the USDA Wild Bean Collection to see if they could find any wild beans that might be resistant to Fusarium wilt. They infected the seedlings with two pathogens that cause Fusarium wilt and Fusarium root rot. They evaluated the wild beans, specifically looking for those that showed no symptoms of either disease.

From the collection of 248 wild bean lines, they found twenty-one lines resistant to Fusarium root rot and sixteen lines resistant to Fusarium wilt. They try to cross some of the resistant wild beans with cultivated beans, to see if the new beans will be resistant to Fusarium as well. They also made our information available for free so that other breeders could also start introducing resistance into their lines in their article published in Crop Science Journal.

Be sure to check out the Crop Science Society of America’s Crop Wild Relative page for a collection of blogs, news articles, and a video on the use of wild relatives in potato breeding!

To find out more, read the full blog: https://sustainable-secure-food-blog.com/2021/09/22/old-beans-may-have-new-uses/

About Us: This blog is sponsored and written by members of the American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America. Members are qualified and certified researchers and professionals in the areas of growing the global food supply while protecting the environment. Members work at universities, government research centers, and private companies in the United States and around the world.

The American Society of Agronomy is an international scientific and professional society headquartered in Madison, WI. Our members are qualified and certified researchers and professionals in the areas of growing the global food supply, while protecting our environment. We work at universities, government research centers, and private companies in the United States and around the world.

/ Public distribution. This material is from the original organization / authors and may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author (s). See it in full here.
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About Hector Hedgepeth

Hector Hedgepeth

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