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Common beans, such as black, kidney, pinto, and snap beans, are important food crops grown in the United States. Beans are vulnerable to many diseases and abiotic stresses which reduce yield and quality. While genetic diversity among cultivated bean varieties offers some sources of stress resistance. wild bean germplasm can be leveraged to further improve the resilience of cultivated bean varieties. 
Karen Cichy (project lead, USDA-ARS), Miranda Haus (postdoctoral researcher, MSU Department of Plant Biology), and Andrew Wiersma (postdoctoral researcher, MSU Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences) were awarded $25,000 from the USDA-ARS Office of National Programs to evaluate wild bean germplasm for disease resistance and adaptive root traits.   They plan to screen the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) collection of wild bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) germplasm for resistance to bean common mosaic virus, root rot (caused by Fusarium solani), and highly virulent races of anthracnose (caused by Colletotrichum lindemuthianum). Adaptive root traits will be identified through comprehensive phenotyping of seedling root architecture. These data will help to inform the global common bean breeding community on the available phenotypic and genetic diversity present in wild beans. 

This project highlights the MSU Plant Resilience Institute (PRI) mission of promoting postdoctoral training through providing opportunities to secure funding for small grants. This project was seeded using funds provided by the PRI.

Photo on left: Small wild beans compared to their larger domesticated counterparts. The top three rows represent some of the diversity seen in wild bean seed coat colors and patterns. Standard black and navy beans (bottom) were included for direct comparison.

Photo on right: Wild bean lines from the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) collection growing in a MSU greenhouse.

beansbeans in greenhouse