Navigation Links
Starch-controlling gene fuels more protein in soybean plants

AMES, Iowa A newly discovered gene introduced into soybean plants has increased the amount of protein in the plant's seed and could hold promise for helping meet nutritional needs of a hungry world.

Eve Wurtele, professor of genetics, development and cell biology; and Ling Li, an adjunct assistant professor and an associate scientist working in her laboratory, have placed a gene found only in Arabidopsis plants into soybean plants and increased the amount of protein in the soybean seeds by 30 to 60 percent.

The results were a pleasant surprise to the researchers as the function of the gene, known as QQS, in the Arabidopsis was previously unclear because its sequence is very dissimilar from all other plant genes.

Arabidopsis is a small, flowering plant in the mustard family that is often used in scientific research.

"Most genes contain clues in their DNA sequence as to their biological function," said Wurtele. "But this one has no sequence features that gave us any hint of what it's doing."

When the researchers neutralized the gene in Arabidopsis, they discovered the gene was involved in regulating starch accumulation, called deposition.

"Based on the changes in activities of other genes that occurred when we altered QQS, we conjectured that it wasn't directly involved in starch synthesis, but rather it may be involved in altering [the plant's] composition in general," said Wurtele. "We decided to test this concept by transferring the gene to an agronomically important plant species, soybean, which has a seed and is important as a source of vegetable protein and oil."

"We found that the QQS transgene increased protein production in the soybean seed," she added. "That was the best possible scenario."

In addition to having a DNA sequence that is not similar to any other gene in that or any other plant, the gene is also unusual because it has only 59 amino acids, Li said. The median size of a gene in Arabidopsis plants is 346 amino acids.

Li discovered the gene in 2004 and named it for her daughter.

"My daughter was a half-year old. This gene was so small and my daughter was so small," Li laughs. "QQ is my daughter's nickname in Chinese."

In addition to altering the protein-producing qualities of the gene, Wurtele hopes that the discovery may lead to greater understanding of other genes that don't have recognizable functionalities based on their sequences.

"This may give us an insight into the other genes with obscure features and provide us a window as to how they function," she said.

Wurtele hopes the discovery may help people in areas who survive on protein-deficient diets.

"We were so pleased [the gene] altered composition in soybean," she said. "What if this basic research discovery could lead to increased protein content in potatoes, cassava, or other crop species that are staples to people in developing nations?

"That would be better than I imagined."


Contact: Eve Wurtele
Iowa State University

Related biology news :

1. Stevens awarded $1M for advanced biofuels research
2. Thinking it through: Scientists call for policy to guide biofuels industry toward sustainability
3. Mandate for biofuels production requires science-based policy and global perspective
4. Oklahoma researchers support biodiversity in biofuels production
5. Experts agree: Environmental standards needed for biofuels
6. Discovering drugs, biofuels in tropical seas
7. Minnesota ecology professor wins international award for biodiversity and biofuels research
8. Europe rallies behind nanotechnology to wean world from fossil fuels
9. Academy participates in project to discover drugs, biofuels in tropical seas
10. NSF funds research at Illinois on sustainable biofuels infrastructure
11. Growing fuel and medicine: Advancing biofuels and plant-produced therapeutics
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Starch-controlling gene fuels more protein in soybean plants
(Date:7/20/2017)... (NYSE: DAL ) customers now can use fingerprints instead of ... Airport (DCA). ... Delta launches biometrics to board aircraft at Reagan Washington National Airport ... Delta,s biometric boarding pass experience that launched in May ... boarding process to allow eligible Delta SkyMiles Members who are enrolled in ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... Italy , May 23, 2017  Hunova, the first robotic gym ... trunk, has been officially launched in Genoa, Italy . ... Europe and the USA . The technology ... on the market by the IIT spin-off Movendo Technology thanks to a ... the Multimedia News Release, please click: ...
(Date:4/24/2017)... WASHINGTON , April 24, 2017 ... counsel and partner with  Identity Strategy Partners, LLP ... "With or without President Trump,s March 6, ... Foreign Terrorist Entry , refugee vetting can be instilled ... refugee resettlement. (Right now, all refugee applications are ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... A ... pregnancy rates in frozen and fresh in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer ... age to IVF success. , After comparing the results from the fresh and ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... October 10, 2017 , ... San Diego-based team building and cooking events company, ... today. The bold new look is part of a transformation to increase awareness, ... significant growth period. , It will also expand its service offering from its signature ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... ... 10, 2017 , ... For the second time in three ... Mentoring Award. Representatives of the FirstHand program travelled to Washington, D.C. Tuesday, October ... US2020’s mission is to change the trajectory of STEM education in America by ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... DALLAS , Oct. 10, 2017 International research firm ... IoT Strategy, will speak at the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , ... key trends in the residential home security market and how smart safety ... ... "The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: