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Soon, NordGen will have access to more information about the bean collection thanks to the EU project INCREASE, which is also inviting the public to participate in the research.

Pulses, such as beans, chickpeas, lupins, and lentils are wholesome and climate smart food with a great potential for improving the agriculture’s environmental impact. Soon, NordGen will extend its knowledge about the genetic composition of the beans in the Nordic seed collection thanks to an EU project in which the public also can contribute to the research.

Recently, leaders of the world gathered in Egypt to discuss how the world should handle the climate crisis. And in a couple of weeks, the biodiversity crisis is to be discussed at an international meeting in Canada. The food we eat and how it is produced are important keys for how we are to handle both crises. In a more sustainable future, we need to eat more plant-based food.

Become a citizen scientist and receive beans to grow

To promote the conservation and utilization of genetic resources along with a more plant-based diet are also the purposes of the


, which has the aim to promote the sustainable use of four important legumes: chickpeas, common beans, lentils, and lupins.

As part of this project, we invite the public to contribute to the research. From November 22, anyone can register at our webpage as a citizen scientist. This means that we send seeds from six different bean varieties that can be grown in a field, garden, terrace or even on a balcony,” says Elisa Bellucci at the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy, who is the INCREASE common bean group leader.

“By using the INCREASE app, the participants will report observations of how their beans grow, look and taste and thereby contribute to increased knowledge about the genetic diversity of legumes in Europe.  By valorizing and conserving these beans they will contribute to the development of a decentralized conservation strategy for genetic resources. It is a funny way of contributing to a more sustainable world”, says Elisa Belluci.

More information about the Nordic beans

Within the Nordic seed collection, there are about 145 different bean varieties. All of these are included in NordGen´s work for INCREASE and will eventually be genotyped as part of the project.

“Simply put, genotyping is a way of visualizing the genes of an organism. For NordGen, this will lead to additional information about the beans we have in our collection. With this information, the beans will be more valuable for the researchers and plant breeders that need them in their work with developing the food for the future”, says Ulrika Carlson-Nilsson, NordGen’s Senior Scientist responsible for legumes.

Phenotyping as well

During the last year, beans have been in focus at NordGen. Beans from the entire collection has been cultivated in the greenhouse, enabling NordGen’s experts to note characteristics such as time of bloom, color of the flowers, pod appearance and if the beans are climbing or of bush type. Now, as the cultivation season has passed, the harvested beans are in focus instead. In NordGen’s seed lab, the beans are measured, photographed, and characterized following a thorough schedule from INCREASE.

”If we are to eat more plant-based protein the plant breeders need to develop healthy, robust, varieties that thrive in the Nordic climate and also have a good protein composition and quality. In addition, the food producers must develop products that are tasty. But a prerequisite for that is that NordGen can offer relevant information about the seed collection that is the foundation of their work. Thanks to the INCREASE project, NordGen will soon be able to offer better information about our bean collection which will benefit both plant breeders, researchers, and farmers. That is wonderful news”, says Ulrika Carlson-Nilsson.

Would you also like to cultivate beans and contribute to more knowledge about this important crop?

Read more and register at INCREASEs webpage.

Learn more about the project in the video below: