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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Phillip N. Miklas (Phil)

Research Geneticist


Dry edible bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) genetics and germplasm enhancement


This project’s mandate is to enhance dry bean and snap bean germplasm and conduct genetic research in response to regional and national needs of the bean industry

Domestic consumption of dry beans continues to rise in response to consumer and scientific recognition of beans as a major health food. In addition to being high in fiber and protein, beans serve as an important natural source of folate and other B-vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.

Dry edible beans and snap beans are grown on about 2 million acres across the United States (North Dakota, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Idaho, Colorado, California, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Florida, New York, and other states) with a farm-gate value averaging $850 million.

Thirty-five percent of the dry bean crop is exported, contributing favorably to U.S. trade balance.

The Pacific Northwest (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington) produces 130,000 acres of dry edible beans. More than 22,000 acres of snap beans on average are grown in the Willamette Valley alone.

Eighty-five percent of the seed industry for dry edible beans and snap beans is based in the Pacific Northwest. The 30,000 acres of seed production in the Pacific Northwest is for export as well as domestic use and is valued at $75 million.

Activities at Prosser include:                              

  • Breeding improved bean cultivars and parental lines
  • Conducting research relevant to genetic improvement of beans, including inheritance studies of economically important traits
  • Developing breeding strategies, including marker-assisted selection, for deploying novel traits in beans
  • Examining bean-pathogen interactions
  • Identifying and developing DNA markers, tightly linked to important traits, with utility for plant breeding

Last Modified: 10/25/2005
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