Faba bean varieties developed for needs in Sweden
SLU Grogrund is a centre for breeding food crops in Sweden. Through collaborations with academics and industry, this centre aims to meet the needs described in the Food strategy from the Swedish government 2017. One need described in the Food strategy is an increased self-sufficiency of raw material for food production, and a prerequisite for this is that the farmers have access to varieties of crops that are adapted to Swedish climate conditions. Faba bean or ‘åkerböna’ in Swedish (Vicia faba) is one of the protein crops that is already grown in Sweden today but only in small volumes. However, there is a high potential for increased cultivation of faba bean for use in food. In a research and breeding project on faba bean, financed by SLU Grogrund 2019-2022, a breeding program has been initiated by Lantmännen, and in parallel new plant breeding tools are being developed through research at SLU to make the breeding program more efficient in the future. Desired traits for faba bean are early maturation, disease and drought resistance, high protein content and low levels of antinutritional compounds.
Faba bean genotype collection characterized at SLU Lönnstorp field station
During 2021 and 2022, 220 different faba bean genotypes from all over the world were characterized in field trials at SITES Lönnstorp Research Station. Different agronomic traits were measured in the field, and the harvested seeds were analyzed for seed quality (starch, protein, oil, and antinutritional compounds). The field design was alpha-lattice in two replicates, and each plot was 0.75 m2 with 50 plants. The 220 different faba bean genotypes includes old and new varieties from Sweden and abroad, landraces, and diverse accessions from gene banks all over the world. The data from 2021 reveals high genetic diversity in traits such as plant height, time of flowering, flower colour, seed size and colour, and seed yield. The faba bean collection is also genotyped, which will reveal DNA sequence differences called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). By associating the phenotypic differences to the identified SNPs, genetic markers for specific traits will be determined. Such genetic markers can be used in the breeding program to make a more efficient selection of parents to cross and develop new varieties with desired traits.
Collaboration between SLU and industry
The SLU Grogrund project on faba bean is a collaboration between the Department of Plant Breeding at SLU, Lantmännen, Kalmar Ölands trädgårdsprodukter, and Sveriges stärkelseproducenter. In June 2022 a project meeting was held in Alnarp, in which several other industrial stakeholders also participated to discuss the possibilities and challenges of the faba bean value chain; from plant breeding, cultivation, and use of the raw material for both food and feed products. The SLU Grogrund project on faba bean hopes that this collaboration can continue into the future.