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Researchers Engineer Water Efficient Beans

SHEFFIELD - May 3/21 - SNS -- Researchers at the University of Sheffield's Institute for Sustainable Food have engineered beans that could use up to 40% less water.

Studies of tepary beans revealed that manipulating the size and density of bean stomata can improve water use efficiency. If used to replace current varieties, it has the potential to reduce agricultural water usage in Mexico by 3%.

The Pod Yield Project examined the differences between the common bean and the tepary bean, a variety which has been naturally grown in Mesoamerica and Mexico for thousands of years. With its ability to be grown in semi-desert environments the team observed how the tepary bean is better suited to its environment, including its less dense stomata, the microscopic valves on its leaves which are used to control water loss and carbon dioxide intake for photosynthesis.

By manipulating the size and density of stomata, they were able to engineer bean crops that can conserve more water and maintain growth under drought conditions for longer than other types of bean.

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