"Unlocking the genetic make-up of the common bean is a tremendous achievement that will lead to future advances in feeding the world's growing population through improved crop production," said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. "While we have much to learn about the application of genomics in agriculture, this study is groundbreaking. I applaud the work of this team of scientists and look forward to their continued work in this important area."
For the study, the team sequenced and assembled a 473-million basepair genome of the common bean. Though it is thought to have originated in Mexico, the common bean was domesticated separately at two different geographic locations in Mesoamerica and the Andes, diverging from a common ancestral wild population more than 100,000 years ago. The team then compared sequences from pooled populations representing these regions, finding only a small fraction of shared genes. This indicated that different events had been involved in the domestication process at each location.
The team looked for regions associated with traits such as low diversity, flowering time, and nitrogen metabolism. They found dense clusters of genes related to disease resistance within the chromosomes. They also identified a handful of genes involved in moving nitrogen around. This information could be beneficial for farmers practicing the intercropping system known as milpa, wherein beans and maize or, occasionally, squash, are planted either simultaneously or else in a relay system where the beans follow maize. The practice ensures that the land can continue to produce high-yield crop
|Contact: David Gilbert|
DOE/Joint Genome Institute