In Missouri, researchers found a key genetic discovery that can help develop more pest-resistant soybean crops. Cyst nematodes are the bane of many soy farmers existence as they wreak havoc and cost billions in lost soybean production each year. By using advanced genetic sequencing, researchers discovered that those nasty nematodes have identical peptides as the plants do to activate growth which is how they are so good at draining the plant nutrients from the feeding sites in plant roots.
If researchers eliminated the genes that the soy plants used to signal their own stem cells, then the nematodes weren’t as successful at damaging the plant. Melissa Goellner Mitchum, a researcher and associate professor at Missouri University told ScienceDaily “If we can block those peptides and the pathways nematodes use to overtake the soybean plant, then we can enhance resistance for this very valuable global food source.”