Jun 7, 2019

A bean for all seasons?

Posted by in category: climatology

Biology professor and researcher Christopher Cullis said he pondered two big questions when he first caught sight of the wild marama bean plant, its definitive patches of green leaves standing out in contrast from among an otherwise parched and brown Namibian landscape.

“Why isn’t this plant affected by the lack of water like everything else—and why isn’t it being eaten by any wildlife?” Cullis said, turning one of the walnut-sized beans over in his fingers and recalling his first trip to the coastal southwest African country about a decade ago. “The answers to those questions make this a very interesting and important legume.”

In fact, Cullis, the Francis Hobart Herrick Professor of Biology at Case Western Reserve University, and partners at universities from three different African countries assert that the hardy-but-humble Tylosema esculentum could someday rise up as a new alternative crop in the often-arid climates of developing countries.

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