COLUMBIA, Mo., Feb. 2 (UPI) -- University of Missouri scientists say they've mapped the soybean genome and identified 1.1 million base pairs of DNA, including more than 90 distinct traits.
The researchers say their accomplishment could lead to extensive crop improvements to soybeans that represent a nearly $3 billion industry in the United states alone.
"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 university. "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."
Nguyen said he has already started collaborating with animal science and nutrition experts to modify soybeans added to animal feeds that could increase the health value of meat.
"Perhaps the most exciting thing that we have found for the soybean community is the gene that confirms resistance to the devastating Asian Soybean Rust disease," Nguyen said. "In countries where this rust is well established, soybean losses can range from 10 percent to 80 percent. Improved soybean strains resistant to the disease will greatly benefit production and increase foodstuffs around the world."
The genome research appears in the January issue of the journal Nature.