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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IDENTIFYING AND MANIPULATING DETERMINANTS OF PHOTOSYNTHATE PRODUCTION AND PARTITIONING

Location: Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit

Title: Accelerating yield potential in soybean: potential targets for biotechnological improvement

Authors
item Ainsworth, Elizabeth
item Yendrek, Craig
item Skoneczka, Jeffrey
item Long, Stephen -

Submitted to: Plant Cell and Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 9, 2011
Publication Date: July 21, 2011
Citation: Ainsworth, E.A., Yendrek, C.R., Skoneczka, J.A., Long, S.P. 2011. Accelerating yield potential in soybean: potential targets for biotechnological improvement. Plant Cell and Environment. 35(1):38-52.

Interpretive Summary: Soybean (Glycine max Merr.) is the world’s most important oil seed crop and is the second most widely planted crop in the U.S. Steady improvements in soybean yield have been achieved over the past 90 years from more efficient agricultural management practices and breeding of improved soybean cultivars. However, in order to meet the needs of a growing world population without unsustainably increasing soybean acreage, large increases soybean yields will be required. In this paper, we describe improvements in soybean yields in the U.S. in the past 90 years, and examine potential new targets for achieving significant gains in soybean yields. These targets include improving photosynthetic efficiency, modifying carbon allocation to the phloem and pods, optimizing nitrogen fixation, and synchronizing flowering time. While a single target is unlikely to result in a quantum leap in yields, new technologies that allow for multiple genes to be incorporated into the soybean genome may provide the means for achieving significant yield gains.

Technical Abstract: Soybean (Glycine max Merr.) is the world’s most widely grown legume and provides an important source of protein and oil. More efficient agricultural practices and breeding of improved soybean cultivars suited to many latitudes have resulted in steady increases in soybean yields over the past century. However, in order to meet the needs of a growing world population without unsustainably increasing soybean acreage, soybean yields will need to increase at a faster rate than they are currently. In this paper, we describe the basis for the gains in soybean yields realized in the USA in the past 90 years, and examine potential metabolic targets for achieving further improvements in soybean yields and yield potential. These targets include improving photosynthetic efficiency, optimizing delivery and utilization of carbon, more efficient nitrogen fixation and coordinating reproductive development across the plant. While a single target is unlikely to result in a quantum leap in yields, new technologies that allow for multiple genes to be specifically incorporated into the soybean genome may provide the means for achieving significant yield gains.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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