Breeding disease-resistant bean varieties could get easier, thanks to a new method of identifying homozygous plants. Homozygous describes plants that are “true breeding,” meaning their offspring will consistently show the same traits.

Bean breeders normally discard heterozygous plants, but only after using an elimination process that takes six to 12 months. The new PCR method takes about two hours, according to the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Vegetable and Forage Crops Production Research Unit in Prosser, Wash.