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Genetic Study Aims to Protect Beans Against White Mold / March 14, 2001 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Read: an article on this research in Agricultural Research.

Genetic Study Aims to Protect Beans Against White Mold

By Kathryn Barry Stelljes
March 14, 2001

A research agreement between the Agricultural Research Service and Syngenta (formerly Novartis Seeds, Inc.) seeks to breed snap beans that fare better against white mold, the most serious disease threatening bean production.

White mold--caused by the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum--destroys up to 15 percent of the world's snap bean crop each year. In the United States alone, the disease costs bean growers $18 million annually in lost yield and fungicide sprays. The fungus also infects many other crops, including lettuce, soybean, alfalfa, potato, pea, canola and sunflower.

Some bean breeding lines already have partial resistance to white mold. ARS geneticist Phillip Miklas is working with Syngenta scientists to isolate the genes responsible for that resistance. Miklas is at the ARS Vegetable and Forage Crop Research Unit in Prosser, Wash.

Each team will use a partially resistant breeding line developed at Cornell University as one of the parents. For the other parents, they'll use different commercial snap bean varieties that are susceptible to white mold. By comparing the offspring of these crosses, they hope to narrow down the location and number of genes responsible for the resistance.

While the genes themselves would probably apply only to beans, it is possible that information obtained by Miklas may help researchers working with other crops affected by the disease.

An article on this research appears in the March issue of Agricultural Research, the agency's monthly magazine.

ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Phillip N. Miklas, ARS Vegetable and Forage Crop Research Unit, Prosser, Wash., phone (509) 786-9258, fax (509) 786-9277, pmiklas@tricity.wsu.edu.

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