Soybean gene discovery could prevent crop losses and save farmers millions

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In Indiana, a novel soybean gene that provides resistance to a devastating and costly fungal disease has been discovered by Purdue University and Dow AgroSciences researchers. Molecular markers can now be developed to rapidly incorporate the resistance gene through traditional breeding techniques into elite soybean varieties to help protect farmers’ soybean yields against stem and root rot.

The team screened a wide variety of soybean genetic material using a number of approaches and pinpointed a gene called Rps11 that confers strong resistance to multiple types of a soil-borne pathogen that causes U.S. soybean farmers to lose $250 million per year due to soybean stem and root rot.

Purdue’s Jianxin Ma, professor of agronomy, said that as more Rps resistance genes are identified, they might be stacked to enhance the strength and endurance of soybean resistance to the pathogen.  Dow AgroSciences intends to make the technology broadly available to soybean farmers.