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Crop Biotech Update

Advanced Breeding Makes Disease Resistant Beans Possible

September 18, 2019
A genetic selection method helps African breeders to grow beans that are disease-resistant. Photo Source: Georgina Smith/CIAT

Beans are an important staple for many people in Africa and Latin America. However, pests and diseases severely reduce bean yields, such as the dreaded angular leaf spot disease which can cause yield losses of up to 80 percent.

Researchers from ETH Zurich and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) worked to investigate the resistance of beans to angular leaf spot disease. Michelle Nay from the ETH group gathered 316 different bean varieties from CIAT's repository. These varieties showed characteristics suitable for breeding resistance to the fungus that causes angular leaf spot disease. Nay also created a high-resolution genetic profile for each of the 316 bean types based on variations in their DNA, and identified which markers occurred only in the disease-resistant beans. She then used these markers to predict which progeny would be resistant to which pathotypes in a given country, and which ones would be susceptible to disease.

Bruno Studer, Professor of Molecular Plant Breeding at ETH said their method speeds bean breeding as the genetic test makes it possible to predict a plant's resistance without the need for laborious field trials. "This is a huge help in bean breeding and great news for people who rely heavily on beans as a staple of their diet," Studer says.

For more details, read the news article in ETH News.

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