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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: Large Scale Identification of Economically Important Wild Soybean Diversity and Transfer to Applied Breeding

Location: Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Research

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
To examine the potential of this new approach by breeding 35 representative wild soybean stocks from Asia and creating novel soybean materials for a new era in applied breeding.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The USDA Soybean germplasm collection currently preserves ~1200 accessions of wild soybean. We will develop a core collection and mini-core collection representative of the larger collection and select 35 for intensive breeding in NC, IL, and MO. The breeding approach is novel and involves mega-scale field grow-outs and selection of adapted lines that capture the diversity of the original wild soybean parent, followed by molecular characterization of products.

The narrow genetic base in US soybean is a major limitation to future yield advances for US soybean production. The greatest source of diversity, WILD SOYBEAN, remains virtually inaccessible to breeders. Recently, USDA-ARS developed a novel breeding approach for large scale transfer of diversity from wild soybean to applied breeding. Our purpose is to realize the potential of this new approach by breeding 35 representative wild soybean stocks from Asia and creating novel soybean materials for a new era in applied breeding. This project is transformative for soybean breeding and has never been attempted. After 60 years of limited success using this resource, we now expect to have most of the genetic diversity in wild soybean available for applied breeding in a span of a few years.


3.Progress Report:

This project is related to Objective 1 of this in-house project: to discover novel genes/alleles in soybean for ‘improved yield potential’, determine their inheritance, determine genomic location, transfer to adapted germplasm, and release. This is a new project with a very short history, becoming operational in the spring of 2013. In preparation for this project, hybridizations of 20 wild soybean types with US varieties were initiated in 2011, with F1 plants grown in winter nurseries in 2012 and large F2 populations (more than 10 acres) grown and harvested in 2012. Many additional wild soybean hybrids (F1s) were developed in 2012 with F1 plants increased in winter nurseries in 2013. This spring we continued the transfer of wild soybean genomes from 35 diverse USDA accessions to adapted soybean breeding lines by growing large-scale breeding populations and selecting upright plants in NC, MO, and IL. These 35 are part of the USDA mini-core germplasm collection for wild soybean, recently developed at Beltsville. A whole-genomic analysis was initiated for all wild soybean and cultivated parental stock used in this project. The genome analysis will enhance the utility of USB products in applied breeding. We initiated a morphological/biochemical evaluation of plant and seed traits for all wild soybean stock used in this study plus the entire reference wild soybean minicore collection. Refinement of breeding protocols was initiated to streamline the genome transfer process from wild to cultivated soybean. A study was initiated to begin comparing the efficacy of F2 bulk, F2 visual selection, and BC1 backcrossing breeding methods in adapted x wild soybean crosses for development of agronomic breeding lines.

The Authorized Departmental Officer's Designated Representative monitored activities of project through frequent phone calls and emails, two formal meetings, and site visits.


Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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