Gene discovery could improve soybean varieties

Researchers discover gene that could provide a more ideal soybean plant for northern U.S.

Researchers from Purdue University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have discovered a soybean gene whose mutation affects plant stem growth, a finding that could lead to the development of improved soybean cultivars for the northern United States.

Purdue agronomy professor Jianxin Ma (pronounced Jen-SHIN' Ma) and collaborators identified a gene known as Dt2, which causes semideterminacy in soybean plants. Semideterminate soybean plants - mid-size plants that continue vegetative growth even after flowering - can produce as many or more pods than current northern cultivars but do not grow as tall. Their reduced height makes them more resistant to lodging, a bending or breaking of the main plant stem.

"This gene could help us improve the yield potential and adaptability of soybeans for specific growing areas," Ma said. "We can now focus on developing a variety of elite semideterminate soybean cultivars, which could perform very well in high-yielding, irrigated environments such as Nebraska and northeastern Indiana."

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