Deployment of Tepary Bean Genetics to Improve Stress Tolerance in Common Bean

2013 to 2016

The production of the dry bean is currently being shifted out of its traditional growing regions and to be replaced with the soybean, which is perceived by farmers to be a less risky crop. In short season growing regions like Saskatchewan and Alberta, where the soybean does not reliably mature, high value dry beans are already being grown and are being promoted for expansion as a viable alternative crop for local producers. However, this expansion is limited due to a lack of tolerance to abiotic stresses to the dry beans, such as chilling and drought, and current climactic trends are starting to suggest that abiotic stress tolerance will be more crucial to having future successful crop productions. The solution for this is to look to wild relatives that have genes to provide traits not found in the cultivated species. While some stresses to the common bean have been improved upon through this process, it still remains a relatively sensitive species.


In March 2012, a meeting was sponsored in Columbia by the Global Crop Diversity Trust, where the need to find sources of abiotic stress tolerance through the use of wild relatives was discussed, specifically in the context of climate change. The tepary bean was singled out as being the most promising source of stress tolerance genes to use to improve the common bean, and has already been found to be a source of tolerance to various biotic and abiotic stresses that would be useful for the dry bean. The tepary bean also carries genes with traits of interest – some of which are increased micronutrient levels, along with resistance to various diseases. In collaboration with CIAT,  Columbia and the USDA-ARS, Puerto Rico, we will work on evaluating bean hybrids for different crosses for cold, heat, and drought tolerance, and also to select and advance bean lines from the existing interspecies hybrids of tepary bean and common bean for incorporation into dry bean breeding programs.


This project is of importance at this time, because there is also an increased international interest in food security issues and a focus on development of cultivars of crops like dry bean, with increased ability to withstand various stresses. This confluence of international priorities and local economic benefits presents us an excellent opportunity to leverage our considerable resources in bean genomics and our international linkages for advancing the dry bean crop development program in Saskatchewan.

Research Area
Breeding & Genetics

Plant breeding is the art and science of changing the traits of plants in order to produce desired characteristics. Plant breeding can be accomplished through many different techniques ranging from simply selecting plants with desirable characteristics for propagation, to more complex molecular techniques. ... [more]

Related Species

Dry Bean are high in starch, protein and dietary fiber, as well as being an excellent source of iron, potassium, selenium, molybdenum, thiamine, vitamin B6 and folate. Dry beans take longer to cook then most pulses, although cooking time can be shortened by soaking dried beans before cooking. Dry Bean is a highly variable species with growth habits ranging from bush varieties growing 20-60cm tall to vine varieties growing 2-3m long. While dry bean varieties range in growth habit all have characteristic green or purple alternate leaves and long pods containing 4-6 kidney-shaped seeds. ... [more]

Sequences, Variants & Markers