Common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) originated in the New World and are the grain legume of greatest production for direct human consumption. Common bean production is subject to frequent droughts in highland Mexico, in the Pacific coast of Central America, in northeast Brazil, and in eastern and southern Africa from Ethiopia to South Africa. This article reviews efforts to improve common bean for drought tolerance, referring to genetic diversity for drought response, the physiology of of drought tolerance mechanisms, and breeding strategies. Different races of common bean respond differently to drought, with race Durango of highland Mexico being a major source of genes. Sister species of P. vulgaris likewise have unique traits, especially P. acutifolius which is well adapted to dryland conditions. Diverse sources of tolerance may have different mechanisms of plant response, implying the need for different methods of phenotyping to recognize the relevant traits. Practical considerations of field management are discussed including: trial planning; water management; and field preparation
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