Faba bean (Vicia faba) is an important nutritional source for human food and animal feed (Duc, 1997). Faba bean seeds are rich in protein, starch, cellulose, and minerals (Hacıseferoğulları et al., 2003) and are consumed in large quantities in developing countries such as China, Turkey, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Central America (Łabuda, 2012). V. faba is not only a good alternative to animal proteins, but also an attractive product because of its low cost, long storage life, and easy transportation (Hacıseferoğulları et al., 2003). Moreover, it is a perfect rotational crop because the nitrogen fixing bacteria in its roots help to enhance soil productivity. Indeed, faba bean is one of the most efficient temperate legumes in terms of nitrogen fixation (Phillips, 1980). Faba bean is the fourth most widely grown pulse crop in Turkey (Pekşen et al., 2006).
Although its wild progenitor is unknown, V. faba seems to have been first domesticated in the Levant where archaeological evidence of its cultivation dates to the 10th millennium bp (Caracuta et al., 2015). Faba bean cultivation spread to Anatolia and then Europe via the Mediterranean coast and to India and China via Mesopotamia (Cubero, 2011). The crop was later introduced to Latin America by the Spanish. During its dispersal, faba bean gained specific adaptations to different environments and uses. These adaptations are reflected in plant architecture and seed size, weight, and shape (Alghamdi et al., 2012). Accordingly, faba bean is separated into four groups based on seed size: major, equina, minor, and paucijuga (Cubero, 1974). The largest seeded type (major) is generally found in south Mediterranean countries and China. The medium-sized type (equina) emerged in the Middle East, north Africa, and Australia, whereas small-seeded types (minor and paucijuga) are prevalent in Ethiopia and northern Europe (Duc, 1997).
Crop germplasm provides the raw material to produce improved cultivars to meet the world’s future food and climate requirements. Germplasm and landrace diversity has arisen due to soil, climatic, cropping, and use differences among regions and farmers (Ernesto, 1992). However, genetically variable traditional varieties are being replaced by a few uniform cultivars which pose a threat to intraspecies diversity and future crop sustainability. Fortunately, faba bean germplasm has been stored in seed banks with more than 38,000 accessions represented in collections worldwide (Duc et al., 2010). This germplasm is a wealth of material for future breeding efforts. Ancient faba bean remains have been found in northwest Syria and Turkey (Tanno and Willcox, 2006); therefore, this region is expected to house highly diverse germplasm. Turkish material has been collected by the Aegean Agricultural Research Institute (AARI) in Izmir, Turkey; however, it has not yet been fully characterized for its morphological properties and molecular diversity. Thus, it is very difficult for breeders to know how they can take advantage of these genetic resources. To address this problem, the genetic diversity and population structure of 101 Turkish faba bean accessions were analyzed using SSR markers. In addition, a core collection was selected based on genetic diversity.
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Plant individuals (Vicia faba) used in this study.
Fragment polymorphism and GD of the SSR markers applied to 101 faba bean accessions.
Individuals selected for the core collection.