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Detection of genetic variation for heat and drought stress response in Vicia faba

Fatiha Eli

Associated Student, JKI

In 2022, about 71,000 hectares in Germany were dedicated to growing faba beans, making them the most significant large-grain legume after peas. Faba beans offer various benefits, such as adding nitrogen to the soil, breaking up dense cereal crop rotations, and contributing to the domestic protein supply. However, these beans are particularly sensitive to heat and drought during flowering. Given the expected rise in dry and hot seasons produced by the changing climate, it is crucial to develop adapted faba bean varieties with effective tolerance strategies.
With our project we will advance the breeding of faba beans for abiotic stress tolerance by combining comprehensive phenotypic, physiological, and genetic approaches.
In the first instance, we monitor growth and water use efficiency of a large and diverse set of elite lines under limiting water conditions to select contrasting genotypes. To this end, we employ a semi-automated growth facility, the Plant-Array system allowing for defined water supply and environmental parameter setting. Identified lines will then be used for extensive analysis of their physiological and metabolic drought response.
Second, our research extends to the critical phase of heat stress during flowering, where we develop sophisticated test methodologies and screening protocols.
Third, by conducting field trials across diverse locations, we systematically assess the performance and yield of recombinant inbred lines, providing valuable insights into genotypic values under diverse environmental conditions. We further conduct sensor and hyperspectral-based measurements to study how different genotypes respond to stress.
Finally, our joint biometric analysis, conducted in collaboration with experts, encompasses genetic mapping and haploblock effect estimation. Resulting in a detailed catalog outlining crucial characteristics of faba beans. Our overall goal is to improve faba bean breeding, bridging the gap with major crops and providing important insights for the future of farming.

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