Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 120, Issue 1, pp 1–12 | Cite as

Genetic diversity and population structure of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) landraces from the East African highlands

  • Asrat Asfaw
  • Matthew W. Blair
  • Conny Almekinders
Original Paper


The East African highlands are a region of important common bean production and high varietal diversity for the crop. The objective of this study was to uncover the diversity and population structure of 192 landraces from Ethiopia and Kenya together with four genepool control genotypes using morphological phenotyping and microsatellite marker genotyping. The germplasm represented different common bean production ecologies and seed types common in these countries. The landraces showed considerable diversity that corresponded well to the two recognized genepools (Andean and Mesoamerican) with little introgression between these groups. Mesoamerican genotypes were predominant in Ethiopia while Andean genotypes were predominant in Kenya. Within each country, landraces from different collection sites were clustered together indicating potential gene flow between regions within Kenya or within Ethiopia. Across countries, landraces from the same country of origin tended to cluster together indicating distinct germplasm at the national level and limited gene flow between the two countries highlighting divided social networks within the regions and a weak trans-national bean seed exchange especially for landrace varieties. One exception to this may be the case of small red-seeded beans where informal cross-border grain trade occurs. We also observed that genetic divergence was slightly higher for the Ethiopian landraces compared to Kenyan landraces and that Mesoamerican genotypes were more diverse than the Andean genotypes. Common beans in eastern Africa are often cultivated in marginal, risk-prone farming systems and the observed landrace diversity should provide valuable alleles for adaptation to stressful environments in future breeding programs in the region.


Common Bean Control Genotype East African Country Genetic Distance Matrice Andean Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful to the Genetic Resource Unit and Bean Project of CIAT as well as the Institute for Genomic Diversity at Cornell University for germplasm and assistance rendered during phenotyping and genotyping. The Generation challenge program (GCP) is gratefully acknowledged for funding associated with this study. We also thank the Cornell Computational Biology Service Unit for assistance in data analysis.

Supplementary material

122_2009_1154_MOESM1_ESM.doc (429 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 429 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asrat Asfaw
    • 1
  • Matthew W. Blair
    • 2
  • Conny Almekinders
    • 3
  1. 1.Awassa Agricultural Research CenterAwassaEthiopia
  2. 2.Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT)CaliColombia
  3. 3.Technology and Agrarian Development GroupWageningen University and Research CentreWageningenThe Netherlands

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