Multistate Land-Grant University Research Project Contributes to Domestic and International Dry Bean Industry

Multistate Land-Grant University Research Project Contributes to Domestic and International Dry Bean Industry

Project Began in the 1970s as Regional Initiative, Has Since Expanded Internationally


October 23, 2014


Washington, D.C. – Researchers from a multistate dry bean production and nutrition project recently met to discuss the project’s goals for the next five years.  The project, titled W-2150 Breeding Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) for Resistance to Abiotic and Biotic Stresses, Sustainable Production, and Enhanced Nutritional Value, has come a long way since its establishment in 1977 as it has expanded beyond researching bean varieties in a few states in the western region of the United States. Now, the project has international participation and impact.


Many of the scientists who collaborate with the 20 land-grant universities participating in the W-2150 project are based across the country and serve as principle investigators on projects to improve nutrition in developing countries. Moreover, researchers regularly release new varieties of snap and dry edible beans and share dry bean breeding methodologies and findings with the domestic and international dry bean industry.


Unlike the corn, soybean, cotton and vegetable sectors, the dry edible bean industry still relies on the release of new varieties and genetic material from public sources, such as USDA and land-grant universities, according to Dr. James Steadman, head of the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “These (dry bean) varieties are for anybody to use. They’re free,”said Steadman, who has been involved with W-2150 and its earlier version since the early 1970s. “What we come up with, we’re sharing with the world, as well.”


The 20 land-grant universities participating in W-2150 include: University of Puerto Rico; Colorado State University; Mississippi State University; Cornell University; University of California, Davis; University of Idaho; Michigan State University; Oregon State University; University of Wisconsin; North Dakota State University; University of Nebraska-Lincoln; University of California, Riverside; Wayne State University; Mayville State University; and University of Arizona. In addition, the universities collaborated with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Michigan, Maryland, Washington, and Puerto Rico. W-2150 is administered through the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service in the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


“By investing in research that analyzes resistance to different biotic stresses, drought, and heat, we have been able to develop a number of new dry bean cultivars in several states. As a result, researchers and dry bean producers are able to use dry bean lines from different breeding programs in the United States. The W-2150 project has also helped breeding programs to developing research protocols, but the main beneficiary of this project is the public,” said Dr. Carlos Urrea, dry bean breeding specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, where the most recent meeting was conducted. The meeting locations rotate among the participating institutions.


The W-2150 project helps to ensure that there is a continued availability of dry beans, which have a number of human health benefits. Beans are full of fiber, protein, and nutrients like zinc and iron and have been shown to help prevent or fight diseases like cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and AIDs.


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