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Promise for Soya Allergy Sufferers

Two Chinese soybean lines that grow without the primary protein linked to soy allergies in children and adults have been isolated by scientists//.

The two lines already are adapted to Illinois-like conditions and will be given away to breeders seeking to produce new varieties of allergy-free soybeans without genetic engineering.

Crop scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service's Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis screened more than 16,000 soybean lines kept in the USDA's National Soybean Germplasm Collection. The findings will appear later this year in the journal Crop Science.

The two soybean lines (PI 567476 and PI 603570A) contain virtually identical genetic mutations that do not contain the leading allergy-causing P34 protein, which consists of 379 amino acids, said Theodore Hymowitz, emeritus professor of plant genetics in the crop sciences department at the U. of I.

‘We are releasing this information with no patents so that companies and breeders involved with soybeans can incorporate these two lines as quickly as possible,’ Hymowitz said. Companies in Japan, Canada and across the United States have been following the research effort, he added.

The research, which was funded primarily by the Illinois-Missouri Biotechnology Alliance, went through two stages.

First, using a specially developed immunochemistry approach, Hymowitz's post-doctoral assistant Leina M. Joseph examined 100 lines of soybeans per day for nine months from the UI-based collection. Seeds were crushed, treated and placed on a membrane for screening. A second screening using stronger antibodies and protein gels was done to confirm the absence of P34 in the two domestic lines, Joseph said.

After the two lines were isolated, seeds were sent to the Danforth Center for additional molecular analysis to determine why P34 was absent. Six ident
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