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NDSU Research Leads to Better Bean-Breeding Strategies

Fargo, N.D. – Two NDSU scientists are members of a national research team that successfully completed the sequence of the common bean genome. North Dakota is the leading producer of dry beans in the U.S. NDSU team members are Phil McClean, plant genomicist, and Juan Osorno, dry edible bean breeder. Both scientists are faculty members of the NDSU plant sciences department.

McClean guided the data analysis that determined that the domestication of the common bean in Mexico and the Andean region of South America involved almost completely different sets of genes. Osorno organized a national field trial that identified regions of the genome associated with seed size and other traits of economic importance.

The sequence revealed that disease resistance genes are highly clustered in the genome. This knowledge will lead to better breeding strategies to combat the many diseases that challenge the bean crop. McClean and Osorno are cooperating locally, nationally and internationally with other bean breeders and geneticists to develop the next generation of molecular markers that will be another important tool to aid bean breeding worldwide.

The project was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S.  Department of Agriculture. The common bean research was published in "Nature Genetics" journal.  McClean was a co-lead author of the article.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private research universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.


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