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Monsanto, Divergence Sequence Soybean Cyst Nematode Genome

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Agricultural giant Monsanto and the nematode genomics company Divergence have completed a draft of the soybean cyst nematode genome, Heterodera glycines, the companies announced today.

The SCN draft genome is the result of a collaboration between Monsanto and Divergence that began four years ago that is intended to develop strategies for controlling SCN. The draft genome, reportedly the first plant parasite nematode genome, was created using three-fold sequence coverage of the SCN genome. The companies anticipate that this genetic data will improve research on and, eventually, control of the pathogenic nematode.

Nematodes are microscopic roundworms, found in many environments, including sea water, fresh water, and soil. Some are involved in animal diseases such as heartworm in dogs and African river blindness in humans. Others are plant pathogens, affecting crops such as corn, cotton, strawberries, and bananas.

In particular, SCN depletes soybean yield by an estimated $1 billion each year. It affects growing soybean plants by entering their roots and pilfering precious nutrients.

“Sequencing the SCN genome is a tremendous step forward in our process of developing a product to help farmers protect their soybean crops against a devastating pest,” Monsanto Vice President of Biotechnology Steve Padgette said in a statement. “As global demand for soy protein increases, it is critical that companies evaluate and invest in novel approaches to combat this yield-robbing pest so farmers can get more yield out of every acre.”

The SCN draft genome will be made publicly available through the National Center for Biotechnology Information, subject to Monsanto and Divergence intellectual property rights, the firms said.

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