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Student Awarded at Central American Agricultural Conference

Plant Sciences M.S. student María Tobar Piñón was awarded first place for her presentation in the legumes section at the Central American Cooperative Program for the Improvement of Crops and Animals (PCCMCA) held in El Salvador, May 16-19, 2017. She presented “Genetic Diversity of the Guatemalan Climbing Bean Collection”. The results of her research are an important scientific breakthrough in bean genetics.
Student Awarded at Central American Agricultural Conference

Maria Tobar Pinon

May 25, 2017

Plant Sciences M.S. student María Tobar Piñón was awarded first place for her presentation in the legumes section at the Central American Cooperative Program for the Improvement of Crops and Animals (PCCMCA) held in El Salvador, May 16-19, 2017.

She presented her research, “Genetic Diversity of the Guatemalan Climbing Bean Collection”. Guatemalan climbing beans have been suggested to represent the race “Guatemala”, a new race in the Middle American gene pool of common bean. Tobar Piñon’s research confirmed the existence of the race “Guatemala” after evaluating the genetic differentiation and genetic diversity of a Guatemalan climbing bean collection. This group is a potential source of new alleles that can be used in breeding programs.

“María’s results are an important scientific breakthrough in bean genetics,” says Tobar Piñón’s co-advisor Juan Osorno. “Her results confirm something that has been suggested before based on results obtained from few samples, but nobody has done it at the scale and resolution we did. These results may change the way in which the organization of bean genetic diversity will be presented in future papers.”

PCCMCA is the most important scientific meeting for plant and animal improvement in the region of Central America and the Caribbean. Research was presented by participants in the areas of corn, legumes, sorghum and rice, animal production, vegetables, and more. Keynote speakers were leading scientists who discussed climate change and food security from the perspective of technological innovation as an agent of change. (www.pccmcaelsalvador.gob.sv/)

Tobar Piñón is working on her master’s degree in Plant Sciences under the advisement of Dr. Phil McClean, professor and director of the genomics and bioinformatics program, and Osorno, professor and dry bean breeder. Her home country is Guatemala.

She is supported by a grant titled "Genetic Improvement of Middle-American Beans for Guatemala" from the USAID Legume Innovation Laboratory. Osorno leads the project, and McClean is a co-principal investigator.

The Central American Cooperative Program for the Improvement of Crops and Animals is an annual meeting of researchers, students and professionals related to agriculture, livestock and forestry in the Central American region, Mexico and the Caribbean. The meeting location rotates among the founding countries of the program.

Source: María Tobar Piñón, Juan Osorno (701-231-8145,), Phil McClean (701-231-8443, )
Author: Kamie Beeson, 701-231-7123,

Editor: Karen Hertsgaard, 701-231-5384,

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