Due to climate change, the probability of hot spells in Austria is increasing, threatening crop losses in beetle beans. To avoid this, the development of more drought- and heat-tolerant beetle bean varieties is essential. To this end, molecular markers were identified in both the predecessor project CharAccess and the CharAccessII project to support future beetle bean breeding, especially of optimized varieties.
The beetle bean is a typical product of southeastern Styria and has been included in the EU list of protected designations of origin as a regional specialty. Climate change is also affecting this plant due to more frequent and longer periods of heat. Beetle beans react to high temperatures by shedding flowers and pods. This results in greatly reduced harvests and even total crop failure. Therefore, it is important to develop more drought- and heat-tolerant beetle bean varieties in order to continue producing beetle beans in Austria in the future. Two research projects funded by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism (BMLRT) and the Province of Styria aim to promote the breeding of heat-tolerant beetle bean varieties.
In the projects CharAccess I & II, together with the Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH (AIT) and Saatzucht Gleisdorf GmbH (SZG), different beetle bean plants were genetically investigated and their behavior under heat stress conditions was observed in glasshouse trials. So-called molecular markers were identified to determine the heat tolerance of beetle beans. Molecular markers are clearly identifiable, short DNA segments. They help plant breeders to identify plants with certain traits (in this case: heat tolerance) and thus optimize the breeding process.
Based on the data analyzed, over 100 possible markers for heat tolerance were considered, from which 18 were selected for their good quality and properties. These findings help to identify the right crossing partners in beetle beans. It can also be verified at an early stage whether the cross has been successful and whether or not the potential heat tolerance genes are present in the progeny. This is a major efficiency advantage in breeding new varieties to safeguard future crop yields in times of climate change. In line with the regional importance of beetle bean for Styria, there is great interest in the results. For farmers, accelerated breeding of heat-tolerant beetle bean varieties means that cultivation of this regional specialty will remain possible even in times of climate crisis.
The aim of the CharAccessII project was to enable the cultivation of the Styrian beetle bean in view of climate change also in the future and to avoid crop losses. For this purpose, molecular markers were determined in order to subsequently breed optimized beetle bean varieties with higher heat tolerance.
Benefit of the project
The continued existence of the Styrian beetle bean is worth protecting not only because of its fame as a regional specialty, but also because of its very good nutritional value. For this to succeed and for yield stability to continue to be guaranteed, optimized varieties must be developed to meet the challenges posed by climate change. In the precursor project CharAccess, initial progress has already been made with regard to the development of heat-tolerant beetle bean varieties. The follow-up project CharAccessII completes the knowledge of beetle beans stored in the genebank and increases the quality of the genebank due to the better description of the stored plant genetic resources. Breeding is supported both by interesting material and by providing markers. Because of this innovative approach to beetle bean breeding, the projects serve as a basis for further development of heat tolerant beetle bean varieties both nationally and internationally.
Project acronym: CharAccessII
Project Management: DI Dr. Alexandra Ribarits, AGES, Institute for Seeds and Seedlings, Plant Protection Service and Bees Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH (AIT) Saatzucht Gleisdorf GmbH (SZG)
Funding: Federal-State Cooperation - Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism and the Province of Styria (project numbers 101193 and 101536, www.dafne.at)
Project duration: 06/2020 to 07/2021
Bomers S., Molin E.M., Adam E., von Gehren P., Hansel-Hohl K., Prat N. and Ribarits A. (2022) Heat tolerant beetle bean (Phaseolus coccineus L.) through utilization of plant genetic resources. In: Working Group on Food, Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences (eds), 76th ALVA Conference 2022, May 30-31, 2022, Graz, pp 326-331. ISBN: ISSN 1606-612X.
Bomers S., Sehr E.M., Adam E., von Gehren P., Hansel-Hohl K., Prat N. and Ribarits A. (2022) Towards heat tolerant runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus L.) by utilizing plant genetic resources. Agronomy, 12(3). https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy12030612
Ribarits, A., Bomers, S., von Gehren, P., Sehr, E. M., Grabner, M., Prat, N., Schwab, M., Etter, K., Adam, E., Freudenthaler, P., 2021. Development of molecular markers to support beetle bean breeding (continuation CharAccess). Final report on project 101536.
Ribarits, A., Sehr, E. M., von Gehren, P., Riegler, B., Gaubitzer, S., Adam, E., Morawetz, L., Freudenthaler, P., 2020. The CharAccess project: a close look at scarlet runner bean diversity. In: Association of Plant Breeders and Seed Buyers of Austria (Ed.), 70th Annual Meeting 2019, Raumberg-Gumpenstein, BOKU-University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria, 71-72. ISBN-13: 978-3-900932-73-2.
Ribarits, A., Sehr, E. M., von Gehren, P., Riegler, B., Gaubitzer, S., Adam, E., Morawetz, L., Freudenthaler, P., 2019. adapted and tolerant? Investigation of beetle bean provenances. In: Working Group for Food, Veterinary and Agricultural Science (Ed.), 74th ALVA Conference 2019, Klosterneuburg, 50-52. ISBN: ISSN 1606-612X.
Ribarits, A., Sehr, E. M., von Gehren, P., Riegler, B., Schwab, M., Morawetz, L., Adam, E., Freudenthaler, P., 2019. Genomics and phenomics of Austrian beetle bean accessions with a focus on heat tolerance. Final report on project 101193.
Last updated: 14.12.2022