Research led by the University of Saskatchewan and Michigan state University is looking at Tepary beans.
The high protein legume common to the southwest U.S. may hold the key to adapting bean crops for the harsh conditions brought on by a changing climate.
Researchers found that as the temperature rises to 27 degrees C at night, which devastates current bean crops, specific genes sensitive to heat stress in the tepary bean get activated, protecting the plant.
Professor of plant breeding and genetics at the U of S, Kirstin Bett, says the tepary bean is very stress tolerant.
By 2050, the major regions growing common beans, the most important legume protein source for humans, may be unsuitable.
The research team sequenced the genome of the tepary bean to study the adaptation to changing temperatures.
Disease remains a concern for the tepary bean and researchers are looking at how to transfer traits between the two species to improve bean vitality in extreme temperatures and changing environments.
Researchers are trying to develop tepary beans that grow in Saskatchewan and other dry areas.
There are several teams in Canada and the U.S. on the project, supported locally by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.