Faba bean (Vicia faba), often called broad bean, is one of the most important food and fodder legume crops worldwide. Faba beans contain very high levels of protein and dietary fibre. From an agronomic standpoint, they are more sustainable than cereal crops due to their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, reducing fertiliser use. It can grow under limited irrigation, moderate salinity and low temperature conditions.
With demand for plant protein and healthier alternatives to meat growing year on year, there is a need to focus on breeding new higher yielding and more resilient faba bean varieties. However, the use of marker-assisted selection for faba bean improvement is currently limited by the availability of genomic DNA sequence data.
In their new paper published in AoBP, Mokhtar et al. present the Vicia faba Omics database (VfODB) as a comprehensive open-access hub of germplasm information, expressed sequence tags (ESTs), expressed sequence tags-simple sequence repeats (EST-SSRs), and mitochondrial-simple sequence repeats (mtSSRs), microRNA-target markers and genetic maps in faba bean. The VfODB integrates 31536 EST, 9071 EST-SSR, and 3023 microRNA-targets markers developed based on V. faba RefTrans-V2 mining.
Mokhtar et al. hope that VfODB will serve as a powerful database for the faba bean research community and breeders interested in Genomics-Assisted Breeding. The VfODB database will regularly be updated with newly released genomic, transcriptomics and literature resources. Furthermore, the hub design and tools will be regularly improved, refined and supported.