Developing beans that can beat the heat


In Africa and Latin America, the production of beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, such as higher temperatures and more frequent drought. Consequently, CGIAR researchers have registered key advances, e.g. the development of drought-tolerant and disease-resistant varieties, to help make production more resilient. In the last few years, however, climate modeling has suggested that higher temperatures will be the primary threat to bean production over the coming decades.

Recent projections suggest that the area suited for growing this crop in eastern and central Africa could shrink by up to 50% by 2050. Across Latin America, the situation is also dire. In response to this concern, CIAT researchers have recently identified elite lines that show strong tolerance to temperatures 4 °C higher than the range that beans can normally tolerate. Many of these lines come from wide crosses between common and tepary beans (Phaseolus acutifolius), a species originating in the arid US Southwest and northwestern Mexico.

This briefing reports findings from research conducted over the last year, which confirm heat tolerance in selected bean lines and show their potential for adapting bean production in Africa and Latin America to future climate change impacts.


CIAT. Developing beans that can beat the heat. International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Cali, Colombia (2015) 12 pp.

Published 1 January 2015