NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Researchers with the US Department of Agriculture plan to create a library of 50,000 SNPs from the soybean genome that could be used to develop soybeans with improved yield, greater resistance to pests, and improved protein and oil quality, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service said late last week.
Scientists at the ARS’ Soybean and Genomics Improvement Research Unit in Beltsville, Md., will be working with $2.9 million in funding from the United Soybean Board.
The researchers will use the SNPs in conjunction with data from the draft of the whole-genome sequencing of the soybean that the US Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute completed in January.
The USDA said it is particularly interested in using this data to identify plants carrying traits such as resistance to pests and the production of high-quality oil.
Earlier this month, the agricultural company Monsanto and a Nematode-focused genomics company called Divergence said they had completed a draft of the genome of the soybean cyst nematode.
“This genomics project will greatly aid soybean-breeding efforts,” United Soybean Board Chairman Ike Boudreaux said in a statement. “Ultimately, improved varieties will be available to farmers much faster,” Boudreaux said.
“Our overall goal is to harness the remarkable recent developments in rapid genome analysis to construct a new, highly detailed, high-resolution description of the genetic diversity contained within soybean and its close wild relatives,” ARS administrator Edward Knipling said in the same statement.
Knipling also said that the knowledge the project generates “may serve as a road map for constructing the shortest, most efficient pathways to identifying soybean genes, their functions and their variants.”
The USB also said that the American Soybean Association is supporting the project by lobbying for more federal funding in soybean genomics.