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Crop Biotech Update

Wild Genes to Improve Nitrogen Fixation in Soybeans

August 26, 2020

Scientists in China are studying wild soybeans to find genetic regions involved in interacting with beneficial microbes that have been lost in domesticated soybeans. The research group grew soybean lines that included small regions of DNA from their wild ancestors and found that some lines responded differently to different strains of the beneficial bacteria known as Sinorhizobium fredii.

The different responses, the group found, were related to whether or not the bacterial strains had fully functional type 3 secretion systems (T3SS), which are used by bacteria to inject protein effectors into plant cells. They followed a dirigent protein named DRR1 and found that it interacted genetically with the bacterial T3SS system to alter the number of nodules a root system forms.

This new genetic approach will help researchers and scientists access some of the genetic diversity of soybean ancestors to improve biological nitrogen fixation, an important part of sustainable agriculture, in modern soybean cultivars.

For more details, read the paper in The American Phytopathological Society.

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