Soy Scientists to Fill "Library" with Genetic
By Jan Suszkiw
March 21, 2008
Soybean varieties with improved yield,
pest resistance, protein and oil quality and quantity and other traits are
among the benefits expected of a new project in which Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) scientists will create a
"library" of 50,000 DNA markers called single nucleotide
Cregan will "stock" the library as part of their ongoing studies
with SNP DNA markers at ARS'
Genomics and Improvement Research Unit in Beltsville, Md. The United
Soybean Board (USB) is funding the
$2.9 million, three-year project from the organization's soybean checkoff
The library's completion will provide soybean researchers and breeders with
a valuable resource to use in characterizing the genetic variation available
for soybean improvement. For example, they'll be able to determine the position
and characteristics of alleles, or alternate forms of genes, within the oilseed
crop's 20 chromosomes.
A goal is to genotype nearly 20,000 lines, called accessions, in the USDA
soybean germplasm collection, which ARS curator and collaborator
Nelson maintains on the University of
Illinois campus at Urbana-Champaign. The library's anticipated 50,000 SNPs
will help researchers to take the next step in applying the soybean whole
genome-sequence datareleased by the U.S.
Department of Energy's Joint Genome
Instituteto make soybean breeding more efficient and precise. Of
particular interest is using SNP marker technology to rapidly identify plants
that carry important traits like high-quality oil and resistance to pests
including soybean cyst nematodes.
The SNPs themselves are small changes, or variations, in the sequence of
four biochemical "letters"A (adenine), C (cytosine), T
(thymine) and G (guanine)that make up an organism's DNA
"alphabet." Cregan and Hyten, together with their ARS and university
colleagues, have so far identified 43,000 SNPs in soybean and mapped the genome
locations of 15,000 of them.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency. The USB is made up of 68
farmer-directors who oversee investments of the soybean checkoff on behalf of
all U.S. soybean farmers.