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The giant faba bean genome decoded

Faba bean is a key protein source for tomorrow’s plant-based foods. So far, its extremely large and complex genome has been impossible to characterize, hampering faba bean improvement. Now, researchers have finally decoded the giant faba bean genome.

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Faba bean (photo: Marcin Nadzieja, MBG, AU)

Replacing meat or milk protein with plant-based alternatives to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions is a global trend and the legume protein crop faba bean is set to play a major role.

Legume protein is critical for the transition to a plant-based diet. By consuming legumes together with cereals like rice or wheat, you can fulfill your nutritional requirements without the need for meat or dairy products. In addition, legumes, including faba bean, are not dependent on artificial nitrogen fertilizers, as they access nitrogen through symbiosis with soil bacteria.

Growing more faba bean means saving nitrogen fertilizer and faba bean’s high productivity in temperate climates can help replace imported soy products with locally produced legume protein to improve agricultural sustainability.

Now, researchers have finally succeeded in decoding the giant faba bean genome, where a single chromosome is as large as the entire human genome.

Professor Stig Uggerhøj Andersen states:

”Decoding the gigantic faba bean genome is a major milestone. We can now finally begin to understand important traits such as drought tolerance, protein content and quality, so that – together with plant breeders – we can improve them in an effective way and make faba bean a much more attractive crop.”

The faba bean genome was sequenced by an international consortium coordinated by  Professor Stig Uggerhøj Andersen, Aarhus University.

The results have been published in Nature.



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Study type


External funding

This work was supported by a grant from the Innovation Fund Denmark (‘NORFAB’, 5158-00004B) to J.S.; FACCE-JPI ERA-NET SusCrop Profaba to S.U.A., D.M.O., F.L.S. and A.H.S.; German Leibniz Association in the frame of the Leibniz Junior Research groups (J118/2021/REPLACE) to M.J.; the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (de.NBI, 031A536B) to H.G.; Novo Nordisk Fund (#NNF20OC0065157) to A.H.S.; the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation grant (PanFaba) to A.H.S.; the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in the framework of Sofja Kovalevskaja Award to A.A.G.; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council award BB/P023509/1 to D.M.O.; the German Research Foundation (DFG) project number 497667402 to A.A.G. and B.U.; the Czech Science Foundation project number GACR 20-24252S to J.M.; the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 834221) to J.S.; the BMBF-funded de.NBI Cloud within the German Network for Bioinformatics Infrastructure (de.NBI) (031A532B, 031A533A, 031A533B, 031A534A, 031A535A, 031A537A, 031A537B, 031A537C, 031A537D and 031A538A); and Grains Research Development Corporation as well as Agriculture Victoria for PacBio sequencing, parts of the public dataset curation for pulses.plantinformatics.io (DAV 1905-003RTX) and RNA sequencing data (BioProject ID PRJNA395480). We acknowledge CSC-IT Center for Science, Finland and ELIXIR CZ Research Infrastructure (Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports grant no. LM2018131)

Conflict of interest


Link to the scientific paper

Murukarthick Jayakod, Agnieszka A. Golicz, Jonathan Kreplak, Lavinia I. Fechete, Deepti Angra, Petr Bednář, Elesandro Bornhofen, Hailin Zhang, Raphaël Boussageon, Sukhjiwan Kaur, Kwok Cheung, Jana Čížková9, Heidrun Gundlach, Asis Hallab Baptiste Imbert, Gabriel Keeble-Gagnère, Andrea Koblížková, Lucie Kobrlová, Petra Krejčí, Troels W. Mouritzen, Pavel Neumann, Marcin Nadzieja, Linda Kærgaard Nielsen, Petr Novák, Jihad Orabi, Sudharsan Padmarasu, Tom Robertson-Shersby-Harvie, Laura Ávila Robledillo, Andrea Schiemann, Jaakko Tanskanen, Petri Törönen, Ahmed O. Warsame, Alexander H. J. Wittenberg, Axel Himmelbach, Grégoire Aubert, Pierre-Emmanuel Courty, Jaroslav Doležel, Liisa U. Holm, Luc L. Janss, Hamid Khazaei, Jiří Macas, Martin Mascher, Petr Smýkal14, Rod J. Snowdon, Nils Stein, Frederick L. Stoddard, Nadim Tayeh, Ana M. Torres, Björn Usadel, Ingo Schubert, Jens Stougaard, Donal Martin O’Sullivan, Alan H. Schulman & Stig Uggerhøj Andersen

The giant diploid faba genome unlocks variation in a global protein crop


doi: 10.1038/s41586-023-05791-5

Contact information

Professor Stig Uggerhøj Andersen
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University, Denmark