Breeding Snap Beans For Organic Agriculture: Quantification And Application Of Key Traits

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2021: $23,914.00
Projected End Date: 07/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G235-22-W8615
Grant Recipient: Oregon State University
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Graduate Student:
Principal Investigator:
James Myers
Oregon State University
Principal Investigator:
Hayley Park
Oregon State University

Information Products


  • Vegetables: beans


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, fertilizers, greenhouses, irrigation, organic fertilizers, plant breeding and genetics, seed saving, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop, youth education
  • Pest Management: chemical control, competition, genetic resistance
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, organic certification, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, soil microbiology
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, partnerships, public participation

    Proposal abstract:

    Certain traits that comprise successful snap bean cultivars, such as high productivity and stress resistance, are similar across agricultural management systems. Others are unique to organic systems alone, such as high early season vigor to compete with weeds or root systems that support nutrient foraging and robust microbial relationships. Cultivars available to organic farmers have historically been developed for and within conventional systems, however snap beans intended for organic farming must be bred within the organic environment to maximize adaptation.

    The proposed project will improve our understanding of the characteristics that benefit snap bean varieties in organic systems and will incorporate these phenotypes into new cultivars. Broadly, we will quantify relevant traits, associate these traits with improved SNP genetic maps, characterize the root and rhizosphere microbiomes, and commercialize new varieties from our research populations.

    Farmers are the primary beneficiaries of new cultivars. As such, their input is essential to create varieties that are well suited to the target growing environments. Accordingly, the proposed breeding work involves seed company and farmer participation throughout the selection and evaluation of candidate cultivars. We will reach out to producers not directly involved in the project through the development of new Extension materials and multiple field day presentations.

    This project will build upon existing research regarding snap bean performance in organic systems by quantifying pertinent phenotypes for use in varietal improvement, associating genotypic information with these phenotypes, and utilizing the combined information in new cultivar development.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research Objectives:

    1.  To understand how population-wide differences in germination rate and seedling vigor relate to previous breeding under organic or conventional management
    2. To quantify differences in functionality of plant-rhizobia interactions within and between populations with comparisons made to the breeding histories of each population
    3. To characterize the root microbiome within a subset of each of the four populations through the use of 16S and ITS sequencing
    4. To utilize the existing four populations to develop a new snap bean variety in collaboration with a regional seed company and local vegetable farmers

    Education/Outreach Objectives:

    1. To engage with producers via field days, feedback meetings, and the creation of an organic snap bean cultivation guide for the maritime Pacific Northwest.
    2. To conduct outreach to the regional rural and urban communities. This includes STEM youth outreach and educational digital media creation.
    3. To communicate our research findings with the academic community via poster presentations, public seminars, and publications.
    4. To propose and organize a panel presentation on organic grain/vegetable legume breeding for the biennial Organic Seed Growers Conference that will be held in the spring of 2022
    5. To organize and conduct a stakeholder needs assessment for organic legume breeding
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.