Location: Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Research
2012 Annual Report
Soybean is among the least diverse crops in the USA, as it is now grown on the farm. Such narrow genetic diversity renders a crop vulnerable to changing pests and less able to withstand environmental extremes. Just as importantly, narrow genetic diversity also limits the ability of breeders to improve the crop and add value for the consumer. New genetics are needed to address this diversity problem. Fortunately, new genetics are available in the USDA soybean germplasm collection. The collection is one of the most extensive preserves of exotic diverse soybean germplasm in the world, and one which has not been tapped extensively by the commercial sector. This project will: i) identify exotic germplasm in the soybean collection which carry key economic traits, ii) determine the genomic location of the genes governing these traits using DNA markers, and iii) use DNA markers and diverse breeding lines derived from exotic germplasm in practical crop improvement. The primary trait of interest for this project is improved seed yield. Approximately 4000 yield plots have been planted as a part of this project, encompassing both quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping populations and identification of advanced breeding lines which are agronomically superior and genetically diverse. Data analysis identified new USDA breeding lines with a high degree of exotic pedigree which out-yielded adapted materials in replicated trials. Crosses to identify the yield genes involved in yield advances were made, F1 plants were grown in winter nurseries, and F2 populations are being increased in 2012.