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The origin of Portuguese bean

500 years of natural adaptation and farmers' selection have made Portuguese bean unique

Oeiras, 7.09.2017

Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is among the most important grain legumes for human consumption worldwide. Portugal has a potentially promising common bean germplasm, resulting from more than five centuries of natural adaptation and farmers' selection. Nevertheless, limited characterization of this resource hampers its exploitation by breeding programs.

Now, researchers from ITQB NOVA's Carlota Vaz Patto Lab, in collaboration with Maria Manuela Veloso, from INIAV, and Zlatko Šatović, from the University of Zagreb, have established the bases for introducing the unexplored Portuguese common bean germplasm into the world of plant breeding by performing molecular marker and seed and plant morphological characterization of 175 accessions from Portuguese mainland and islands traditional bean-growing regions. The results were published in Frontiers in Plant Sciences.

High genetic and morphological diversity was detected among this collection. One third of the national germplasm had admixed genetic origin and might represent putative hybrids among gene pools from the two original centers of domestication (Andes and Mesoamerica). Still, the majority of the Portuguese accessions analyzed were more related to the Andean gene pool.

From the entire collection, a core collection that retains all the diversity within this germplasm, with minimum repetitiveness was selected. This subset of 37 accessions will allow an increased efficiency of the forthcoming more detailed characterization of this valuable resource.

Also, with this study, the complexity of the Portuguese bean germplasm, reflected by its genetic structure, was revealed. This knowledge is of vital importance for future genetic studies, using this underused but promising germplasm, such as association studies. Those genome-wide studies might contribute to uncovering the genetic basis of several interesting traits and develop molecular tools to assist the selection of bean accessions with improved quality and agronomic performance.


Original Research article

Front. Plant Sci., 26 July 2017

Establishing the Bases for Introducing the Unexplored Portuguese Common Bean Germplasm into the Breeding World

Susana Trindade Leitão, Marco Dinis, Maria Manuela Veloso, Zlatko Šatović and Maria Carlota Vaz Patto


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