A joint European initiative is proposed to evaluate currently and previously grown faba bean varieties for characteristics of importance to sustainable agriculture and to apply novel methods of marker-assisted genetic improvement to construct enhanced faba bean genotypes that will serve as parental lines for future variety development. Priority will be given to the combination of increased yield, digestibility, nutritional quality and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, thus allowing for the production of a leguminous crop of high value in European crop rotations of low input and stable yields. Since the climatological conditions, farming systems and importance of abiotic and biotic constraints vary from one area to another, different ideotypes will be designed for specific European regions.
The general objective of the work is to combine the application of marker-assisted selection and conventional breeding methods to develop enhanced faba bean genotypes with characteristics of importance to sustainable agriculture across Europe. To achieve this, the crop should be attractive both to producers through the development of genotypes resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses and to users (humans or animals), through the development of plant genotypes free of antinutritional factors (ANFs). The resulting materials (cultivars or advanced lines) will fit the needs of UE agriculture and will be suitable for any further breeding methodology as required in the future.
This will be achieved by:
(i) Evaluation of current and historic faba bean varieties for characteristics of importance to sustainable agriculture in order to define the desired phenotypes suitable for each European area
(ii) Development of new and reliable screening methods for the most relevant biotic stresses in order to identify new sources of resistance and characterise the resistance mechanisms. The resulting germplasm will be of great interest in future breeding programmes
(iii) Identification and study of the inheritance of frost resistance, winter hardiness and drought tolerance in multilocation field trials and laboratory experiments. The information gleaned from these studies could be of major agronomic significance since winter beans have a potential yield three times that of spring varieties
(iv) Development of fast and cheap screening methods for anti-nutritional factors (tannins and vicine-convicine) in order to identify lines of interest with high protein content, free of anti-nutritional compounds
(v) Development of molecular maps in RILs populations of Vicia faba in order to locate genes and QTLs controlling resistance, nutritional factors and other yield components. Studies on field stability of QTLs across diverse locations and genetic backgrounds will allow the development of specific markers (SCARs) for pyramiding and rapid screening. The next step will be transferring genes and QTLs to new recipient lines in order to develop genetic materials that fit the defined European ideotypes.
(vi) Application of the “Association Mapping” approach to identify the association between markers and traits-phenotypes without using mapping populations