Our targets for soybean improvement rely on determining the underlying molecular genetics controlling seed traits such as altered fatty acid profiles (low linolenic acid oil and high oleic acid oil) and decreasing the anti-nutritive factors in seed meal (low phytic acid and low raffinose/stachyose).  We capitalize on a variety of techniques including candidate gene approaches and forward and reverse genetics.  We employ basic molecular biology tools to characterize soybean genes at the sequence and expression level.  In addition, we carry out basic genetics experiments by following alleles of interest in segregating populations of plants.  We develop new tools by discovering the alleles of genes that are responsible for important soybean seed composition traits.  The results of our work will ultimately result in the development of new soybean varieties that provide better choices for producers to meet the demand for the basic ingredients for healthier foods.

Agricultural Research Service  

Soybean Seed Composition - Molecular Genetics

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Understanding the molecular genetic basis for valuable soybean seed composition traits is the focus of the laboratory.  Soybean is an important crop because of the capacity of seeds to provide both a high protein meal as well as an edible oil with a variety of fatty acid profiles.  Like many crop species, soybean has a complex genome that is the result of historical genome duplications.  The presence of extra copies of soybean genes makes simple genetic tests challenging and genetic gain through traditional breeding difficult, although not impossible.