Application of SNP genotyping and rapid screening procedures to enable commercialisation of faba bean varieties with stem nematode resistance

Lead Research Organisation: National Institute of Agricultural Botany
Department Name: Centre for Research


Stem nematode, Ditylenchus dipsaci, is a major pest of Vicia faba beans in the UK. It reduces yield and quality, and its persistence in soil imposes a major constraint on where faba beans can be grown. The crop provides a large and lucrative export market for the UK, but this is currently significantly under-supplied, indicating considerable potential for an increased growing area. If stem nematode could be effectively controlled, growers would be able to expand faba bean acreage and have confidence that output would not be adversely affected. Resistance to the pest provides a cost effective and environmentally benign means of control. Sources of resistance are known in faba bean germplasm, yet there are no resistant varieties available appropriate for the UK and its markets. Recent developments in the generation of molecular markers in faba bean, and improvements in phenotypic screens for nematode resistance, provide an opportunity for the rapid, marker-assisted development of resistant varieties. The objectives of this project are to locate genes conferring stem nematode resistance in a new purpose-designed faba bean segregating population, and to select for these genes within the current breeding programme so that resistant varieties with export quality can be achieved. The project will bring new, efficient and affordable breeding techniques to a crop which has had little research support in the last decade, and is prone to some major biotic stresses, but which has a high value market outlet for the UK and delivers many desirable environmental benefits.


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O'Sullivan DM (2016) Advances in Faba Bean Genetics and Genomics. in Frontiers in genetics

Description New SNP markers and assays in faba bean have been discovered and validated. Novel phenotyping techniques have been used to track stem nematode resistance in a faba bean breeding population.
Exploitation Route The techniques developed will be taken forward into commercial breeding programmes by one of the project partners, and have demonstrated how new breeding technologies can be applied to the major leguminous crop in the UK. The introduction of stem nematode resistance using the techniques developed in our project will greatly improve yield potential of the crop and increase the area on which it can be grown.
Sectors Agriculture

Food and Drink

Description Molecular markers developed by the project are now in regular use by the commercial breeding partner, both for general genotyping characterisation and trait selection. Nematode-resistant progeny of crosses studied in the project have been integrated in the commercial winter bean breeding programme as have improved methodologies developed for screening further generations.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

Description Global Challenges Research Fund Foundation Awards for Global Agricultural and Food Systems Research
Amount £707,773 (GBP)
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2017 
End 04/2019
Title Viciatoolbox website 
Description The vicia tool box is a web-based, interactive repository for publicly available Vicia faba KASP SNP markers and genetic maps that provides a bibliography linked to open access publications and a directory of people involved in faba bean research. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Exploitation of KASP markers for enabling trait mapping in faba bean for the DEFRA Pulse Crop Genetic Improvement Network (2016 - present), BBSRC iCASE studentship (2016-2020), 
Description Breeding for Nematode Resistance Demonstration 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A live demonstration at the NIAB stand at Cereals 2011 (15th-16th June 2011) using infected plants in pots to explain to members of the public attending the event how advanced genetics and breeding techniques were being used in the project to introduce nematode resistance into faba bean varieties.

Resistant and susceptible nematode-infected faba bean plants in pots were used, together with a story board explaining in simple terms the methodology of the project, to explain how resistance to stem nematode is being introduced into improved faba bean material for deployment in commercial faba bean breeding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
Description Lecture to the Association of Secondary Teachers Annual Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "Frontiers" lecture to the Annual Conference of the Association for Science Education - the main UK association for professional science teachers in secondary level education by Prof Donal O'Sullivan. Lecture entitled: "Using peas and beans in the classroom to teach Mendel's Laws, the ntirogen cycle, sustainability and more" accompanied by living demonstration of Mendel's peas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015