COLUMBIA, Mo. In 2009, soybeans represented an almost $30 billion industry in the U.S. alone, making soybeans the second-most profitable crop next to corn. Worldwide, soybeans have been used in human foods and livestock feed for centuries and have been a key component in industrial products, such as plastics and soy biodiesel, an environmentally friendly fuel. A team of researchers, including University of Missouri researchers, recently completed a study identifying 1.1 million base pairs of DNA in the soybean genome, including more than 90 distinct traits that affect plant development, productive characteristics, disease resistance, seed quality and nutrition, which could lead to extensive crop improvements.
"The genome sequence will be a new tool for plant breeders, industrial engineers, geneticists, biochemists, technologists, nutritionists and anyone else who uses soybeans worldwide," said Henry Nguyen, director of the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. "With knowledge of which genes control which soybean traits, scientists may be able to better adapt the plant to drought conditions, bringing a new cash crop and food product to poor areas of the Earth."
Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, MU scientists, in collaboration with researchers at other institutions, mapped the soybean genome to make crop improvements and provide a key reference for more than 20,000 different species of plants. Nguyen already has begun collaborating with animal science and nutrition experts to modify soybeans added to animal feeds that could increase the health value of meat. Specifically, he is looking at ways to impart certain antioxidants that are known to decrease the frequency of cancer, and proteins from soybeans into the meat. Nguyen also is studying the root system of soybeans and how they respond to drought. He's pinpointing which proteins or genes contribut
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University of Missouri-Columbia