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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Decode DNA Secrets of World's Toughest Bean

July 17, 2019

Scientists from the University of Callifornia Riverside (UC Riverside) have decoded the genome of black-eyed peas, a legume also known as cowpea. This is the first high-quality reference genome for cowpea. 

Cowpeas are small beans with dark midsections and is a global dietary staple for centuries due to their environmental toughness and exceptional nutritional qualities, such as high protein and low fat. It is the top source of protein in the human diet in sub-Saharan Africa. 

One of the cowpea's traits that the scientists are looking into is its remarkable ability to recover from drought stress. Project co-leader Timothy Close, a UC Riverside professor of botany and plant sciences said, "We're trying to figure out why cowpeas are so resilient to harsh conditions. As we move into a world with less water available to agriculture, it will be important to capitalize on this ability and expand on it, taking the lead from cowpeas to guide improvements in other crops that are vulnerable to climate change."

For more details, read the UC Riverside News.