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Concept: Vicia faba


BACKGROUND: Faba bean (Vicia faba L.) is an important food legume crop, grown for human consumption globally including in China, Turkey, Egypt and Ethiopia. Although genetic gain has been made through conventional selection and breeding efforts, this could be substantially improved through the application of molecular methods. For this, a set of reliable molecular markers representative of the entire genome is required. RESULTS: A library with 125,559 putative SSR sequences was constructed and characterized for repeat type and length from a mixed genome of 247 spring and winter sown faba bean genotypes using 454 sequencing. A suit of 28,503 primer pair sequences were designed and 150 were randomly selected for validation. Of these, 94 produced reproducible amplicons that were polymorphic among 32 faba bean genotypes selected from diverse geographical locations. The number of alleles per locus ranged from 2 to 8, the expected heterozygocities ranged from 0.0000 to 1.0000, and the observed heterozygosities ranged from 0.0908 to 0.8410. The validation by UPGMA cluster analysis of 32 genotypes based on Nei’s genetic distance, showed high quality and effectiveness of those novel SSR markers developed via next generation sequencing technology. CONCLUSIONS: Large scale SSR marker development was successfully achieved using next generation sequencing of the V. faba genome. These novel markers are valuable for constructing genetic linkage maps, future QTL mapping, and marker-assisted trait selection in faba bean breeding efforts.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Molecular biology, DNA sequencing, Genetic linkage, Vicia faba, Vicia


Corn-broad bean spaghetti type pasta was made with a corn/broad bean flour blend in a 70:30 ratio, through an extrusion-cooking process (Brabender 10 DN single-screw extruder with a 3:1 compression ratio). The effect of temperature (T=80, 90 and 100°C) and moisture (M=28%, 31% and 34%) on the extrusion responses (specific consumption of mechanical energy and pressure) and the quality of this pasta-like product (expansion, cooking-related losses, water absorption, firmness and stickiness) was assessed. The structural changes of starch were studied by means of DSC and XRD. The extrusion-cooking process, at M=28% and T=100°C, is appropriate to obtain corn-broad bean spaghetti-type pasta with high protein and dietary fibre content and adequate quality. The cooking characteristics and resistance to overcooking depended on the degree of gelatinisation and formation of amylose-lipid complexes. The critical gelatinisation point was 46.55%; beyond that point, the quality of the product declines.

Concepts: Protein, Nutrition, Maize, Pasta, Flour, Vicia faba, Vicia, Starch gelatinization


Even though the faba bean (Vicia faba L.) is among the most ubiquitously cultivated crops, very little is known about its origins. Here, we report discoveries of charred faba beans from three adjacent Neolithic sites in the lower Galilee region, in the southern Levant, that offer new insights into the early history of this species. Biometric measurements, radiocarbon dating and stable carbon isotope analyses of the archaeological remains, supported by experiments on modern material, date the earliest farming of this crop to ~10,200 cal BP. The large quantity of faba beans found in these adjacent sites indicates intensive production of faba beans in the region that can only have been achieved by planting non-dormant seeds. Selection of mutant-non-dormant stock suggests that the domestication of the crop occurred as early as the 11(th) millennium cal BP. Plant domestication| Vicia faba L.| Pre-Pottery Neolithic B| radiocarbon dating| Δ(13)C analysis.

Concepts: Agriculture, Carbon, Neolithic, Vicia faba, Vicia, Radiocarbon dating, Carbon-14, Galilee


The interaction between sodium chloride and Trichoderma harzianum (T24) on growth parameters, ion contents, MDA content, proline, soluble proteins as well as SDS page protein profile were studied in Vicia faba Giza 429. A sharp reduction was found in fresh and dry mass of shoots and roots with increasing salinity. Trichoderma treatments promoted the growth criteria as compared with corresponding salinized plants. The water content and leaf area exhibited a marked decrease with increasing salinity. Trichoderma treatments induced a progressive increase in both parameters. Both proline and MDA contents were increased progressively as the salinity rose in the soil. Trichoderma treatments considerably retarded the accumulation of both parameters in shoots and roots. Both Na+ and K+ concentration increased in both organs by enhancing salinity levels. The treatment with Trichoderma harzianum enhanced the accumulation of both ions. Exposure of plants to different concentrations of salinity, or others treated with Trichoderma harzianum produced marked changes in their protein pattern. Three types of alterations were observed: the synthesis of certain proteins declined significantly, specific synthesis of certain other proteins were markedly observed and synthesis of a set specific protein was induced de novo in plant treated with Trichoderma harzianum.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Gel electrophoresis, Sodium chloride, Ion, Sodium, Vicia faba, Vicia, Trichoderma harzianum


The understanding of crop domestication is dependent on tracking the original geographical distribution of wild relatives. The faba bean (Vicia faba L.) is economically important in many countries around the world; nevertheless, its origin has been debated because its ancestor could not be securely identified. Recent investigations in the site of el-Wad (Mount Carmel, Israel), provide the first and, so far, only remains of the lost ancestor of faba bean. X-ray CT scan analysis of the faba beans provides the first set of measurements of the biometry of this species before its domestication. The presence of wild specimens in Mount Carmel, 14,000 years ago, supports that the wild variety grew nearby in the Lower Galilee where the first domestication was documented for Neolithic farmers 10,200 years ago.

Concepts: Israel, Domestication, Neolithic, Vicia faba, Vicia, Galilee, Mount Carmel, Jezreel Valley


Plant diversity in experimental systems often enhances ecosystem productivity, but the mechanisms causing this overyielding are only partly understood. Intercropping faba beans (Vicia faba L.) and maize (Zea mays L.) result in overyielding and also, enhanced nodulation by faba beans. By using permeable and impermeable root barriers in a 2-y field experiment, we show that root-root interactions between faba bean and maize significantly increase both nodulation and symbiotic N2 fixation in intercropped faba bean. Furthermore, root exudates from maize promote faba bean nodulation, whereas root exudates from wheat and barley do not. Thus, a decline of soil nitrate concentrations caused by intercropped cereals is not the sole mechanism for maize promoting faba bean nodulation. Intercropped maize also caused a twofold increase in exudation of flavonoids (signaling compounds for rhizobia) in the systems. Roots of faba bean treated with maize root exudates exhibited an immediate 11-fold increase in the expression of chalcone-flavanone isomerase (involved in flavonoid synthesis) gene together with a significantly increased expression of genes mediating nodulation and auxin response. After 35 d, faba beans treated with maize root exudate continued to show up-regulation of key nodulation genes, such as early nodulin 93 (ENOD93), and promoted nitrogen fixation. Our results reveal a mechanism for how intercropped maize promotes nitrogen fixation of faba bean, where maize root exudates promote flavonoid synthesis in faba bean, increase nodulation, and stimulate nitrogen fixation after enhanced gene expression. These results indicate facilitative root-root interactions and provide a mechanism for a positive relationship between species diversity and ecosystem productivity.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Bacteria, Organism, Rhizobia, Maize, Vicia faba


Climate change can threaten the reproductive success of plants, both directly, through physiological damage during increasingly extreme weather events, and indirectly, through disruption of plant-pollinator interactions. To explore how plant-pollinator interactions are modified by extreme weather, we exposed faba bean (Vicia faba) plants to elevated temperature for 5 d during flowering, simulating a heatwave. We then moved the plants to flight cages with either bumblebees or no pollinators, or to two field sites, where plants were enclosed in mesh bags or pollinated by wild insect communities. We used a morphological marker to quantify pollen movement between experimental plants. There was a substantial increase in the level of outcrossing by insect pollinators following heat stress. Proportion outcrossed seed increased from 17 % at control temperature, to 33 % following heat stress in the flight cages, and from 31 % to 80 % at one field site, but not at the other (33 % to 32 %). Abiotic stress can dramatically shift the relative contributions of cross- and self-pollination to reproduction in an insect pollinated plant. The resulting increases in gene flow have broad implications for genetic diversity and functioning of ecosystems, and may increase resilience by accelerating the selection of more stress-tolerant genotypes.

Concepts: Weather, Pollination, Seed, Flower, Pollinator, Vicia faba, Vicia, Extreme weather


Global food security, particularly crop fertilization and yield production, is threatened by heat waves that are projected to increase in frequency and magnitude with climate change. Effects of heat stress on the fertilization of insect-pollinated plants are not well understood, but experiments conducted primarily in self-pollinated crops, such as wheat, show that transfer of fertile pollen may recover yield following stress. We hypothesized that in the partially pollinator-dependent crop, faba bean (Vicia faba L.), insect pollination would elicit similar yield recovery following heat stress. We exposed potted faba bean plants to heat stress for 5 days during floral development and anthesis. Temperature treatments were representative of heat waves projected in the UK for the period 2021-2050 and onwards. Following temperature treatments, plants were distributed in flight cages and either pollinated by domesticated Bombus terrestris colonies or received no insect pollination. Yield loss due to heat stress at 30 °C was greater in plants excluded from pollinators (15%) compared to those with bumblebee pollination (2.5%). Thus, the pollinator dependency of faba bean yield was 16% at control temperatures (18-26 °C) and extreme stress (34 °C), but was 53% following intermediate heat stress at 30 °C. These findings provide the first evidence that the pollinator dependency of crops can be modified by heat stress, and suggest that insect pollination may become more important in crop production as the probability of heat waves increases.

Concepts: Pollination, Flower, Pollinator decline, Pollination syndrome, Pollen, Bumblebee, Pollinator, Vicia faba


Efficient methods to explore plant agro-biodiversity for climate change adaptive traits are urgently required. The focused identification of germplasm strategy (FIGS) is one such approach. FIGS works on the premise that germplasm is likely to reflect the selection pressures of the environment in which it developed. Environmental parameters describing plant germplasm collection sites are used as selection criteria to improve the probability of uncovering useful variation. This study was designed to test the effectiveness of FIGS to search a large faba bean (Vicia faba L.) collection for traits related to drought adaptation. Two sets of faba bean accessions were created, one from moisture-limited environments, and the other from wetter sites. The two sets were grown under well watered conditions and leaf morpho-physiological traits related to plant water use were measured. Machine-learning algorithms split the accessions into two groups based on the evaluation data and the groups created by this process were compared to the original climate-based FIGS sets. The sets defined by trait data were in almost perfect agreement to the FIGS sets, demonstrating that ecotypic differentiation driven by moisture availability has occurred within the faba bean genepool. Leaflet and canopy temperature as well as relative water content contributed more than other traits to the discrimination between sets, indicating that their utility as drought-tolerance selection criteria for faba bean germplasm. This study supports the assertion that FIGS could be an effective tool to enhance the discovery of new genes for abiotic stress adaptation.

Concepts: Natural selection, Water, Vicia faba, Vicia, Falafel


Plant growth chambers provide a controlled environment to analyse the effects of environmental parameters (light, temperature, atmospheric gas composition etc.) on plant function. However, it has been shown that a ‘chamber effect’ may exist whereby results observed are not due to an experimental treatment but to inconspicuous differences in supposedly identical chambers. In this study, Vicia faba L. ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ (broad bean) plants were grown in eight walk-in chambers to establish if a chamber effect existed, and if so, what plant traits are best for detecting such an effect. A range of techniques were used to measure differences between chamber plants, including chlorophyll fluorescence measurements, gas exchange analysis, biomass, reproductive yield, anatomical traits and leaf stable carbon isotopes.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Life, Plant, Chlorophyll, Comparison of Linux distributions, Vicia faba, Vicia, Falafel