Common Bean Improvement in the Twenty-First Century

Volume 7 of the series Developments in Plant Breeding pp 25-52

Diversity in Phaseolus Species in Relation to the Common Bean

  • Daniel G. DebouckAffiliated withCentro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT)

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The genus was originally defined by Linnaeus (see Delgado Salinas, 1985; Westphal, 1974). The poor initial definition of the genus, together with the biological wealth of tropical forms in this group of legumes, resulted in the naming of hundreds of species (over 400), especially in the period 1810–1910. Early reviews by Bentham (1840), Hassler (1923), and Piper (1926), however, contributed to the clarification of natural groups at a higher level, and lead to the definition of several sections. Consolidation of these sections, mostly after 1950, thanks to the contributions of Urban (1928), Verdcourt (1970), Maréchal et al. (1978), and Lewis & Delgado Salinas (1994), resulted in several new genera, including Vigna, Phaseolus sensu stricto, Macroptilium, Ramirezella, and recently Misanthus. At the International Legume Conference of 1978, a definition of the genus was narrowly defined for a natural group of American legumes within the Phaseolinae with the following main attributes: stipules not extending below insertion, presence of uncinate hairs, floral bracts persistent up to or past flowering, absence of extra floral nectaries, and style not extending beyond the stigma.

Key words

cultivated and wild Phaseolus species evolution under domestication founder effect gene pools grouping of species useful traits