Source: University of Illinois

An ancient offshoot of soybeans may one day provide resistance to sudden death syndrome (SDS) and soybean rust, University of Illinois scientists reported at the recent U of I Agronomy Day.

Justin Ma, a graduate research fellow in the U of I crop sciences department, said the glycine tomentella, a vine-like perennial native to Australia, is resistant to soybean cyst nematodes and rust diseases. "These are traits we hope to introduce (into soybeans)," Ma said.

U of I researchers also have found new soybean lines with tomentella genes that have "significant" resistance to SDS compared to the soybean parent, Ma noted.

Randall Nelson, a genetics researcher with USDA's Agricultural Research Service, explained researchers aren't able to directly cross modern soybeans with tomentella, because it has twice as many chromosomes as soybeans.

However, using additional technology, scientists have demonstrated they can introduce tomentella genes into soybeans because some of the plants have changes in oil and protein concentration as well as differences in plant height and flower color, Ma added.

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