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2022 > 09

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.

Drone photo of the field experiment from above at SITES Lönnstorp Research Station 2021. Photographer: Aakash Chawade. Drone photo of the field experiment from above at SITES Lönnstorp Research Station 2021. Photographer: Aakash Chawade.

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.

Photos showing newly established faba bean plants at SITES Lönnstorp Research Station (left) and field demonstrations 2021 and 2022 (right). Photographers: Åsa Grimberg and Lisa Beste.
Photos showing newly established faba bean plants at SITES Lönnstorp Research Station (left) and field demonstrations 2021 and 2022 (right). Photographers: Åsa Grimberg and Lisa Beste.

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. 

The first AQUACOSM-plus transnational access (TA) experiment using the SITES AquaNet infrastructure finished in Mid-August. The experiment investigated functional and compositional consequences of run-off variability and was synchronized at Lake Erken and Bolmen during 6 weeks this summer. It brought together a team that involved 10 TA participants from Spain, Turkey, Ireland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, 5 participants from AQUACOSM-plus partners at IBG and Oldenburg University in Germany, and several local participants from Uppsala and Lund University.

Group picture with participants in the AquaNet experiment. Photographer: Matilda Andersson
Group picture with participants in the AquaNet experiment. Photographer: Matilda Andersson
During the experiment clear differences were observed in the abundance of Gloetrichica echinulata colonies, which is a cyanobacterium that blooms in Erken during summer. Photographer: Matilda Andersso During the experiment clear differences were observed in the abundance of Gloetrichica echinulata colonies, which is a cyanobacterium that blooms in Erken during summer. Photographer: Matilda Andersso

In the experiment, different run-off scenarios were investigated, which was done by manipulating the intensity and frequency of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), i.e. peat extract, and inorganic nutrient pulses that were added to the mesocosms while keeping the total added amount constant. There was a treatment with daily additions, an extreme treatment where all DOC and nutrients were added as one big pulse and an intermediate treatment where they were added in stochastic pulses of varying intensity. The project participants and SITES AquaNet will now continue with the sample and data analysis to answer how the different treatments affected among others, plankton composition and biomass/abundance, dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition, greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient stoichiometry. The experiment is unique in that it allows comparison of responses between two lakes that have very similar DOC concentrations but differ in DOC composition and dissolved nutrient concentrations.

Now that the summer 2022 experiment is wrapping up, we have started to make plans for the SITES AquaNet experiments in spring 2023 - more information and participation call will follow soon. Stay tuned! 

Preliminary data collected during the experiment in Erken shows that there were clear differences between run-off treatments in dissolved oxygen concentration, measured by a sensor that each mesocosm was equipped with.
Preliminary data collected during the experiment in Erken shows that there were clear differences between run-off treatments in dissolved oxygen concentration, measured by a sensor that each mesocosm was equipped with.

The summer season at Tarfala Research Station (TRS) has been very wet. Heavy rainfall during a couple of days at the end of August brought along temporary and also more permanent changes: Between Lake Tarfala and TRS, Tarfalajokk became so wide and carried so much water that any idea of crossing needed to be dismissed. Lillsjön (translating to “the little lake”) just south of TRS turned into a rather large lake.

Left: Low waterlevel in Lillsjön. Middle: High waterlevel in Lillsjön. Photographer: Nina Kirchner
Tarfala Valley, where the path to TRS has been washed away by recent heavy rainfall. Photographer: Nina Kirchner Tarfala Valley, where the path to TRS has been washed away by recent heavy rainfall. Photographer: Nina Kirchner

A few kilometers down in the Tarfala Valley, several hundred meters of the path to Tarfala Bridge was swept away by water masses. Erosion was substantial, including a landslide on the western valley flank, and a completely changed riverbed. This has made the 6 km hike down to Tarfala Bridge, where the SITES Water discharge measurements are conducted at least once a week, an evolving challenge for the station’s team. At the beginning of September, water levels in Lillsjön and Tarfalajokk returned back to lows, and the first northern lights could be observed. 

After more than two years of travel restrictions and limited field research activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Abisko Scientific Research Station is finally back to full speed. The summer of 2022 has been one of the busiest summers in the history of the research station, with the station constantly at – or beyond – full capacity, June through September.

Undergraduate students hard at work in the Stordalen mire, collecting data for ongoing and new research projects, including methane and carbon flux measurements and vegetation quantification. Photo credit: Hannah Holland-Moritz


Researchers have been eager to get back to the field to follow up on long-term projects or to initiate new ones. Over the past few months, the station has accommodated more than 70 research projects, driven by an eclectic community of junior and senior researchers, students, field assistants, and interns. With researchers affiliated with institutions spanning more than 12 countries and 3 continents, the vibe has been international, interdisciplinary, and energetic. Projects have covered research fields ranging from biogeochemistry, plant ecology and soil ecology, through microbiology, entomology, limnology and hydrology, to modelling and remote sensing – to give a few examples.

SITES Water: new installation for measuring stream O2 and CO2 concentrations. A buoy and constant force spring ensure that the cable stays tensioned and that the sensor always stays at the same water depth relative to the surface regardless of changes in water level and discharge throughout the year. This set-up also protects the sensor from sudden changes in water pressure. Photo credit: Alexander Meire


The long-term environmental monitoring programs within ICOS and SITES have also continued successfully, generating high-quality environmental data for long-term monitoring as well as supporting data for associated research projects. In addition to continuous measurements, this summer’s monitoring work included lake chamber flux measurements (SITES Water), extensive vegetation surveys (ICOS) and the development and installation of an improved system for measuring stream O2 and CO2 concentrations (SITES Water).
 
As the summer season slows down, the Abisko Scientific Research Station transitions into a slightly less intense mode, but research continues here throughout the year with an exciting winter season coming up!

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