Saturday, May 18, 2024

University of Missouri scientists map two more soybeans

soybean helix
An artistic rendition of a soybean helix — photo courtesy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

University of Missouri scientists have created a genetic map of two more soybeans, providing additional information that will aid future breeding of varieties with improved traits.

Until this most recent gene sequencing, only one cultivar — Williams 82 — had been mapped and that was done nearly a decade ago, according to a university news release. Now the cultivar Lee and a wild relative of the soybean join Williams 82.

Henry Nguyen, Curators’ distinguished professor of plant scientists at UM, led the group.

“The significance here is that we now have three reference genomes for soybeans,” Nguyen said in the release. “Having those reference genomes gives us a solid foundation to build on and allows us to continue to understand the genetic diversity of soybeans. If we want to increase yields, improve disease resistance and seed composition quality, and allow for better stress adaptation and resilience, we have to understand how the genetics work.”

Henry Nguyen
Henry Nguyen

The sequencing project, “Better Soybean, Better Life,” is designed toto assist molecular breeding and genome editing in order to enhance the productivity, biotic and abiotic stress tolerance, and nutritional quality of soybeans globally.

Having several reference genomes will allow breeders to develop and deliver new varieties more quickly and efficiently.

“The new genome assemblies will be important for several reasons,” said Steven Cannon, a plant research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. “The Lee cultivar is an important variety in the southern U.S. and has been used as a parent of many other commercial soybean lines. The other new genome sequence is from a close wild relative of soybean and will give a picture of how the soybean was domesticated, starting several thousand years ago in Asia. Together, these genome assemblies should help researchers more rapidly identify important genes and to efficiently produce improved soybean varieties.”

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