Genetic Resources of Phaseolus Beans

Volume 6 of the series Current Plant Science and Biotechnology in Agriculture pp 143-161

Morphological, Physiological and Biochemical Changes in Phaseolus Beans under Domestication

  • J. Smartt

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Evolutionary studies of Phaseolus beans have centred very largely on questions of “age and origin”, that is to say the duration of the period under domestication and the geographical areas in which this occurred. Morphology has been considered only insofar as the characters have been expressed in preserved archaeological material and this is of course restricted to those of the seed and to a lesser extent the pod. Only rarely,can the shoot system which bore them be studied (KAPLAN, 1965). KAPLAN is fully aware of this restriction in the value of archaeological materials in the study of Phaseolus evolution where extensive changes have been brought about in the shoot system. The discovery of BURKART and BRÜCHER (1953) of wild Phaseolus beans in N.W. Argentina which were obviously close relatives of cultivated P. vulgaris and the discovery of comparable wild material in Mexico by MIRANDA (1968) and GENTRY (1969) has enabled preliminary comparative studies of the morphology, physiology and biochemistry of wild and cultivated forms to be carried out (SMARTT 1969, 1976a, 1976b; KLOZ and KLOZOVA, 1968; KLOZ 1971). These studies have been somewhat limited in scope but nevertheless useful generalisations can be made and conclusions drawn. It must be borne in mind that wild populations can be polymorphic as well as those of the cultigen and the possibility of complex patterns of domestication must also be noted.