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Gene discovery may lead to new varieties of soybean plants
Date:4/27/2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Just months after the soybean genome was sequenced, a Purdue University scientist has discovered a long-sought gene that controls the plant's main stem growth and could lead to the creation of new types of soybean plants that will allow producers to incorporate desired characteristics into their local varieties.

Jianxin Ma (Jen-Shin Ma), an assistant professor of agronomy, used the research model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to discover the soybean gene that controls whether the plant's stem continues to grow after flowering. The find is a significant key to diversifying the types of soybeans growers can produce all over the world.

"The approach that we used in this study proves to be promising for rapid gene discovery and characterization in soybean," said Ma, whose findings were published Monday (April 26) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. "With the genomic resources and information available, we spent only six months pinpointing and confirming the candidate gene - the time it takes to grow one generation of soybean."

Soybean plants generally fall into two categories: determinate plants whose main stem tips stop growing after flowering, and indeterminate plants that continue main stem growth after flowering. In the United States, indeterminate soybeans are grown in the northern states, while determinate are grown in the southern states, Ma said. A northern U.S. grower who may want the characteristics found only in a type of determinate soybean would not be able to successfully grow a determinant cultivar in the north.

Ma was able compare the gene known to control Arabidopsis thaliana's stem growth pattern with the soybean genome to identify four soybean candidate genes. Those genes were then sequenced in a sample of different families of soybeans, including Glycine soja, a wild type of soybean; Glycine max landraces, which were varieties developed through selection
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Contact: Brian Wallheimer
bwallhei@purdue.edu
765-496-2050
Purdue University
Source:Eurekalert  

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