Genetic resources and breeding priorities in phaseolus beans: Vulnerability, resilience, and future challenges

Travis A. Parker, Jorge Acosta Gallegos, James Beaver, Mark Brick, Judith K. Brown, Karen Cichy, Daniel G. Debouck, Alfonso Delgado-Salinas, Sarah Dohle, Emmalea Ernest, Consuelo Estevez de Jensen, Francisco Gomez, Barbara Hellier, Alexander V. Karasev, James D. Kelly, Phillip McClean, Phillip Miklas, James R. Myers, Juan M. Osorno, Julie S. PascheMarcial A. Pastor-Corrales, Timothy Porch, James R. Steadman, Carlos Urrea, Lyle Wallace, Christine H. Diepenbrock, Paul Gepts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Genetic vulnerability refers to (sometimes catastrophic) actual or potential losses in the production of a crop (in quantity and/or quality), attributable to spatial or temporal reduction in the crop's biodiversity. Conversely, genetic resilience refers to the natural and anthropic capabilities of this biodiversity to mitigate these reductions in crop production. Here, an assessment is provided of genetic vulnerability and resilience of Phaseolus beans, which provide an abundant and sustainable source of protein and micronutrients for populations around the world. We provide an overview of the economic, nutritional, and cultural role of Phaseolus beans and phylogenetic and diversity analyses of the genus, its five domesticated species, and seven domestications, which provide key foundational information for this appraisal. We then assess the uniformity of the crop in the United States and the main drivers of genetic erosion in the centers of origin of the genus in the Americas. Next, the current and emerging breeding constraints are discussed for biotic and abiotic stresses, morphological and phenological traits, and dietary and cooking needs. To address these vulnerabilities, several resources have been developed and, which have been applied to increase the genetic resilience of Phaseolus beans. The resilience resources include genetic resources collections such as the global collection at the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT, Colombia), national collections in the United States, Brazil, the European Union, and elsewhere, which include wild and domesticated types across the genus but focus primarily on domesticated species. Resilience resources also include genome-wide reference DNA sequences for three of the five domesticated species, multiple diversity panels and recombinant inbred populations, and large sets of whole-genome diversity data based on single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays, genotyping by sequencing, and whole-genome sequencing of germplasm sets. Numerous marker-trait associations and genes affecting agronomic traits have also been characterized in the genus. In turn, these resources have been successfully utilized to make Phaseolus beans more resistant against biotic and abiotic stresses (including those incurred by climate change) and to improve dietary and culinary quality through significant breeding efforts in the United States, at CIAT (mainly Latin America and Africa) and in national programs in Latin America and Eastern Africa. Future challenges remain, however, which include (1) a continued need for ex situ and in situ conservation of diversity, with agroecologically informed germplasm explorations and integration of farmers into conservation and breeding activities; (2) increased pre-breeding efforts involving gene bank curators and bean improvement scientists; (3) expansion of breeding of domesticated species other than common bean, where appropriate based on their potential adaptation to global climate change and consumer preferences; (4) an increased focus on culinary and dietary improvement; and (5) inclusion of microorganisms (both pathogenic and beneficial) in genetic conservation. We conclude that in the short term (~5 years), Phaseolus beans have limited genetic vulnerability. However, over the longer term, vulnerability due to several factors will increase, which can be addressed by a wide range of the resilience resources presented here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPlant Breeding Reviews, Volume 46
Number of pages132
ISBN (Electronic)9781119874157
ISBN (Print)9781119874126
StatePublished - Jan 20 2023


  • Abiotic stress
  • Beans
  • Biodiversity
  • Biotic stress
  • Crop vulnerability
  • Crop wild relatives
  • Domestication
  • Farmer selection
  • Genetic diversity
  • Genetic erosion
  • Genomics
  • Grain legumes
  • Marker-assisted selection
  • Phaseolus
  • Plant breeding
  • Pre-breeding
  • Resilience
  • Seed banks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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