Phaseolus vulgaris L. (Common bean)

Crop Type: Garden Crop

Breeding system: Predominantly autogamous

The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is an annual species, belonging to the Fabaceae family.

It is one of the most important grain legumes for direct human consumption worldwide. It is produced over an area of about 18 million hectares, mainly in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa with a total production of 12 million tons per year (Akibode and Maredia 2011; FAOSTAT 2019). In these regions, the common bean represents a major source of proteins and nutrients, such as Fe, Zn, thiamine and folic acid, for more than 300 million people (Petry et al. 2015). 

In general, common bean shows a great variability in terms of plant architecture, seed characteristics (size, shape and colour), relative duration of the reproductive cycle and many other qualitative and quantitative traits (Rodiño et al. 2003; Blair et al. 2009; Angioi et al. 2010; Raggi et al. 2013; Rana et al. 2015; Leitão et al. 2017). This diversity enabled its cultivation in a wide range of cropping systems and environments such as China, Eastern Africa, the Americas, the Middle-East and Europe (Blair et al. 2010). Even if its cultivation focuses predominantly on the production of dry grain, also the production and consumption of fresh grain (shell beans) and fresh pods (snap beans) is of major importance, the latter especially in Europe (EUROSTAT 2013). When compared to other legumes such as soybean and cowpea, common bean is generally considered weak in symbiotic nitrogen fixation ability (Bliss 1993). 

The common bean is a predominantly self-pollinating plant, with occasional occurrence of insect-mediated cross-pollination.

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  • EUROSTAT (2013) European Commission Statistics Database. 
  • FAOSTAT (2019) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAOSTAT database. 
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  • Petry N, Boy E, Wirth JP, Hurrell RF (2015) Review: The potential of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) as a vehicle for iron biofortification. Nutrients 7:1144–1173. doi: 10.3390/nu7021144
  • Raggi L, Tiranti B, Negri V (2013) Italian common bean landraces: Diversity and population structure. Genet Resour Crop Evol 60:1515–1530. doi: 10.1007/s10722-012-9939-y
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