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New Research Positions’ Goal is Increased Value from Soybeans

By Kim Kaplan
November 27, 2001

Taking a high-tech approach to improving basic soybean traits is the idea behind the Agricultural Research Service joining forces with the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Mo.

ARS has created two scientist positions at the St. Louis center with about $538,000 in new research funds to develop methods to improve soybean productivity and the value of soybean protein and oil.

Increases in soybean yield have historically lagged behind those of other crops. During the past 40 years, wheat yields have increased 115 percent and corn yields have gone up 168 percent, while soybean yields have increased only 42 percent.

Improving protein and oil content at the same time as increasing overall soybean yield has been especially difficult. But modern, high-technology approaches using structural and functional genomics--gene expression--could identify new pathways for improvements.

The Danforth Center, known as a world-class research facility, has recruited an extraordinary group of scientific leaders to serve as its principal investigators.

By creating the new research positions at the Danforth Center, ARS will be able to take advantage of special opportunities for collaborating with scientists who are among the best and most original in the field of plant genomics.

ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.