Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Publish Additional Soybean Reference Genomes

April 4, 2018

For almost a decade, only one soybean cultivar – "Williams 82" – had been sequenced. Now, scientists at the University of Missouri led by Henry Nguyen, a Curators' distinguished professor of plant sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources mapped two more. Focusing on soybeans grown in southern U.S., as well as a wild ancestor, Nguyen's team mapped soybean cultivar "Lee" and wild type PI 483463. Using NRGene's DeNovoMAGIC™, the Lee and PI 483463 assemblies were delivered, resulting in genome assembly sizes of 1,021 MB and 960 MB and N50 scaffold sizes of 4.57 MB and 4.44 MB with BUSCO scores of 94.9% and 95.3% respectively. Those are the most accurate and complete genome representations of these cultivars.

Having a map of soybean genes is important for breeders, who work to develop varieties that farmers can use to help battle diseases and other environmental factors. Soybean is an extremely important crop on a worldwide level. Approximately 340 million metric tons of soybeans are produced globally each year, with the market for soybeans worth $40 billion each year in the U.S. alone.

Nguyen said, "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."

For more details, read the CAFNR News or the press release from NRGene.