Crop Biotech Update

Unusual Genetic Structure Confers Major Disease Resistance in Soybean

October 17, 2012

Scientists have identified three neighboring genes that make soybean resistant to cyst nematode, its most important disease. The genes are found in the genetic structure called Rhg1, the preferred defense against cyst nematode and currently used on millions of soybean planted worlwide.

In a study published this week in the journal Science, Rhg1 is shown to actually house three genes that work together to confer namatode resistance. Prof. Andrew Bent from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, together with graduate student David Cook and Matthew Hudson of the University of Illinois, said that plants with 10 copies of Rhg1 grew well in a nematode infested field. Professor Bent added that "what confers the resistance is higher expression of all three genes, and not a mutation in the genes." The findings of their study will help soybean breeders identify genes needed for resistance and quickly identify resistant plants, speeding the quest to breed soybeans with stronger nematode resistance.

The news release is available at http://www.news.wisc.edu/21153.