Biotech Updates

USDA Scientists Breed Healthier Soybean Lines

September 24, 2010

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and university scientists have discovered and used gene copies of FAD2 to improve soybean's oleic-acid content. The team led by Kristin Bilyeu, a molecular biologist of USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), said that having high levels of oleic acid would mean more monosaturated fat, thus avoiding resorting to hydrogenation. Hydrogenation is the process of converting oil from liquid to solid, which also improves shelf life and product quality. However, this process also produces trans-fats which worsen the body's blood cholesterol levels.

Soy oil would normally contain 20 percent oleic acid, but the new beans produced with the gene copies could produce up to more than 80 percent oleic acid. Field trials in Missouri and Costa Rica showed that these new soy lines' oleic content remains stable even if exposed to different growing conditions.

For more information, visit