The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

July 23, 2013

Researchers discover genes resistant to soybean pathogen

(Continued)

“We were originally looking for possible resistance to Asian soybean rust,” she said. “Our experimental locations had high Phytophthora pressure, and we found that these genes did very well against that disease. That was our first clue that they might have good resistance to Phytophthora sojae.”

During its three years of study the Purdue researchers have developed molecular “markers” - identifying tags - that can be used to expedite the transfer of the resistant genes to soybean cultivars. That process is known as marker-assisted selection.

“There are about 46,000 predicted gene models in what we call the reference soybean genome,” Ma said. “These markers allow rapid pyramiding of multiple resistant genes into a single cultivar in order to boost the effectiveness of resistance.”

Although Phytophthora sojae eventually could render the two resistant genes ineffective, the pathogen itself likely would become much weaker, Hughes said.

“Every time a pathogen overcomes resistance in its plant host it has to give up something itself,” she said. “So if it turns out that in order for the pathogen to overcome this new resistance it ends up having a fitness penalty - for instance, it can’t compete as well or it doesn’t survive as long in the soil — then these genes will last longer.

“We believe these genes are durable, but we don’t know enough about them yet to predict how effective they could be, and for how long.”

Ma, Hughes and collaborating Purdue researchers Scott Abney, Feng Lin, Meixia Zhao, Jieqing Ping, Austin Johnson and Biao Zhang plan to continue their research. They next hope to move their work from greenhouses and into field trials. After that the resistant lines could make their way into commercial cultivars.

“This has the potential to provide a higher profit margin for soybean farmers, as well as reducing the use of harmful chemicals and promoting a cleaner environment,” Ma said.

--- Purdue Extension

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