New soybean variety reduces food losses to plant diseases
Worldwide, soybean is a very important crop economically. In the United States, growers lose over $5 billion in soybean yields due to various plant pests and diseases. The top two threats to soybeans are soybean cyst nematode and the fungal pathogen Fusarium virguliforme, which causes sudden death syndrome. In recent years, annual soybean yield losses to these two pathogens have been valued at close to $2 billion.
A research team at Iowa State University has identified a novel soybean gene that, once overexpressed, could enhance the plant’s resistance to sudden death syndrome. To overexpress the gene during infection, they created transgenic lines by swapping a part of the gene with that of three other genes, following F. virguliforme infection.
As many as 91% of the modified soybean plants showed resistance to sudden death syndrome with no loss in crop yields. As a bonus, the transgenic soybean plants also exhibited significant immunity against soybean cyst nematode, spider mites and soybean aphids.
This research sets the stage for new soybean breeding and management strategies with significant potential to protect food supplies and save farmers millions of dollars each year in lost yields.