Location: Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Research
2012 Annual Report
The Drought Tolerance project seeks to unlock the rich store of drought tolerance genes that exist in the USDA’s preserve of soybean germplasm. This preserve was formed by scientists through decades of work, combing the globe to find exotic soybean. This reservoir of exotic diversity, although collected by scientists, was produced originally by over 3000 years of ‘on-farm breeding’ in Asia, in which farmers adapted the soybean to a range of climate conditions, including drought. Special genes for drought tolerance, bred into soybean long ago by these ancient farmers, are key to coping with the problem of drought in the USA today. The drought problem is so severe for our farmers in the USA because U.S. varieties do not presently contain these special drought genes from Asia. The central theme of our drought tolerance work is that we can ‘turn the tables’ on drought in the USA by putting the world’s genetic resources to work. To that end, the USB drought tolerance project coordinates the research activities of 8 scientists and 7 research institutions in the Midwest and South. All of this effort is aimed at transferring drought genes from exotic Asian material into adapted genetic materials which will protect agriculture from damaging droughts.
This project has been active only since May 2011. Specific cooperative agreements have been activated, derivative to this project. Since activation, we have completed DNA tagging of 5 slow wilting genes from PI 416937 and DNA tagging of a gene conditioning limited leaf hydraulic conductance in PI 416937. A new champion USDA slow-wilting breeding line (N05-7432) was re-tested in 10 additional environments and continued to outyield check varieties in the South. Cumulative data now shows that this new slow-wilting type now outyields check varieties over 30+ environments. More than 5000 yield plots were grown in drought prone areas and will be evaluated to identify drought tolerant soybean types.