Crop Biotech Update

Phaseolus Genome Gives Insights into Nitrogen Fixation

June 11, 2014

A research team has sequenced and studied the genome of the common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris. The results of their study shed light on nitrogen fixation, disease resistance, and how beans were domesticated. In the process, the team identified a handful of genes involved in nitrogen movement, which could be helpful to farmers who intercrop beans with other crops that don't fix nitrogen.

The research team, led by researchers at the University of Georgia, U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology and North Dakota State University, also looked into the common bean's origin and domestication. Though believed to have originated in Mexico more than 100,000 years ago, it was domesticated separately at two different geographic locations in Mesoamerica and the southern Andes.

They also discovered dense clusters of genes related to disease resistance within the common bean's chromosomes; certain genes that are shared by both the common bean and soybean, its important relative; and evidence that the common bean's genome evolved more rapidly than did the soybean genome, after the two species parted ways on the evolutionary pathway nearly 20 million years ago.

Results of the sequencing project have been published in the June 8 edition of the journal Nature Genetics (doi:10.1038/ng.3008). More details are available at: http://jgi.doe.gov/just-hill-beans-phaseolus-genome-lends-insights-nitrogen-fixation/.