Toward a Better Bean

Improving genetic, genomic, breeding, and crop management resources for lima bean to benefit the Mid-Atlantic Region

Summary of the “Better Bean” Project:

Lima bean production falls victim to a plethora of recurring and emerging pests. Pathogens cause downy mildew, pod blight and white mold, and pests like root-knot nematodes cause feeding damage. These pests are primarily controlled by chemical pesticide applications or have limited controls available. Lima bean is the cornerstone of Delaware’s vegetable processing industry, extending into Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia and when limas are attacked, vegetable processors and growers suffer economic damage. Our goals are to generate genomic, genetic, and breeding capacity and resources, develop improved pest assessment and predictive tools, promote environmentally-friendly crop management practices, and teach growers and processors to directly utilize the tools and resources developed through the proposed research, through the following lima-bean-centered

Our standard research and extension project addresses three SCRI focus areas: (1) research in plant breeding, genetics and genomics to improve crop characteristics, (2) efforts to identify and address threats from pests and diseases and (3) efforts to improve profitability over the long-term.


  • Downy mildew: identify genetic structure of field isolates, and improved disease prediction models,
  • Pod blight: develop comprehensive monitoring and control strategies
  • White mold: develop comprehensive monitoring and control strategies
  • Root-knot nematode: develop methods for improved field assessment and identification of genetic resistance
  • Genetic resource building: develop genetic resources for identification of complex traits
  • Economic analysis: develop a long-term quantitative analysis of the economic impact of disease control technology adoption on lima bean growers’ profitability and loss due to pest pressure

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