Biotech Updates

Plant Breeder Develops Rust-Resistant Soybean

May 13, 2015

University of Illinois geneticist Ram Singh has managed to cross a popular soybean variety, Dwight (Glycine max) with a related wild perennial plant that grows like a weed in Australia, producing the first fertile soybean plants that are resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode, and other soybean pathogens.

According to Singh, there are 26 wild species of Glycine perennials that grow in Australia. One species, Glycine tomentella, was of particular interest because it has genes for resistance to soybean rust and to soybean cyst nematode, Singh said. Earlier efforts to hybridize it with soybean produced only sterile plants. Singh continued to experiment and eventually developed a hormone treatment that interrupted the process that caused the hybrid seeds to abort. Singh's research has yielded plants that are resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode or Phytophthora root rot.

For more details, read the news release at the University of Illinois website.