The Grain Legume FtF Project (http://arsftfbean.uprm.edu/bean/) aims to identify and develop common bean lines of Andean origin useful for breeding improved lines for FtF countries in the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa. The new lines are designed to increase crop productivity under conditions of drought, high temperature, low soil fertility, and disease pressure, and to improve cooking time and nutritional value of harvested seeds. Significant genetic advances have been achieved, and field testing trials conducted. New improved populations of beans have been made available to African farmers. In addition, the collaborative relationships developed in the course of the project have proven to be invaluable opportunities for African researchers, and researchers from several countries.
- Genetic Advances: Several chromosomal regions associated with cooking time, elevated seed concentrations of individual micronutrient metals, and resistance to various pathogens were identified using association mapping in the Andean Diversity Panel (ADP). These genomic regions will help us breed for faster cooking and more nutritive beans, with better disease resistance and greater resilience to changing climates. The genetic mechanism of fast cooking time trait through transcriptome, cell wall characterization, and germination studies was defined in order to facilitate further breeding.
- Field trials with Andean, PIC, and Durango populations and progeny to help identify breeding material resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses, fast cooking time, and improved nutritional value were conducted. In 2015, about 35 F4 generation PIC populations were planted by collaborators in Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia for single plant selection. Bean plants were selected for traits such as adaptation, agronomic performance, disease response, and seed appearance in each target location.
- Collaboration and Networking: The USDA-ARS Feed-the-Future Grain Legumes Project, in collaboration with ARC South Africa, hosted a consortium of 65 bean scientists from 14 countries, including: 35 participants from 10 African countries, 9 participants from 3 South American countries, and 21 participants from the U.S. including 4 USDA-ARS scientists that represent the ARS-FtF Grain Legumes Project. Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, ARS Administrator attended, and presented Certificates of Appreciation to three outstanding partners who had made significant contributions to the ARS-FtF Grain Legumes Project (http://www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=25737).