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Australian faba beans get a tune-up

Thursday 11 July, 2019

A new study will help enhance the health attributes of faba beans and increase value in the lucrative export industry.

Daniel Skylas, the lead researcher on this project.

Delicious and nutritious Australian pulses are in demand around the world. Australia’s thriving pulse industry includes chickpeas, lupins, field peas, lentils and faba beans.

Faba beans, including the larger-seeded broad beans, are a significant part of Australia’s pulse export industry, worth more than $160 million each year. Australia is the world’s leading exporter of faba beans.

However, the nutritional properties of some faba bean varieties are being held back by the presence of certain anti-nutritional factors – known as vicine and convicine (VC for short).

VC is potentially toxic to people with a certain genetic enzyme deficiency and is difficult to remove using traditional processing methods.

That’s why the Australian industry is looking towards plant breeding as a potential solution.

New research published in CSIRO’s Crop & Pasture Science journal reveals for the first time the key nutritional and anti-nutritional quality traits of major Australian faba bean varieties.

Ten faba bean varieties, grown in replicated field trials in South Australia over consecutive seasons, were evaluated for key quality traits.

This information will go a long way towards helping the national pulse breeding program target specific quality traits and deliver better performing faba bean varieties in the future. This has the potential to deliver significant benefits to growers and consumers through the breeding of improved with reduced levels of anti-nutritional factors.

The study was co-ordinated by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) in Sydney and funded by the Functional Grains Centre at Charles Sturt University. The research was enabled by use of the Central Analytical Research Facility hosted by the Institute for Future Environments at Queensland University of Technology.

This study would not have been possible without the support of the following collaborators, in particular, Dr Jeffrey Paull, leader of the Pulse Breeding Australia faba bean program, who provided all the seed material studied; and Dr Beverley Gogel and David Hughes at the University of Wollongong were generous with statistical analysis.

Daniel J. Skylas A,B Jeffrey G. Paull C, David G. D. Hughes D, Beverley Gogel D, Hao Long E, Brett Williams E, Sagadevan Mundree E, Christopher L. Blanchard B, and Ken J. Quail A

A  Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre, North Ryde, NSW 2113, Australia.

B ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Functional Grains, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650, Australia.

C School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, Waite Campus, University of Adelaide, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

D Centre for Bioinformatics and Biometrics, National Institute for Applied Statistics Research Australia, Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, The University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia.

E Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia.