Human Genome Project Aids Soybean Genome Mapping
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Don Comis, (301) 504-1625, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 22, 1999
What's the difference between a soybean and a person? Besides the obvious,
soybean plants have three fewer pairs of chromosomes--and about 1.7 billion
fewer pieces of DNA.
Still, plant geneticist Perry B. Cregan borrows biotech tools from the human
genome project to map soybean genes. Cregan is with USDA's Agricultural
Research Service in Beltsville, Md.
The United Soybean Board has awarded more than a million dollars in grants
to support soybean gene mapping by Cregan and other scientists around the
country. Finding soybean genes to enhance yields and pest resistance could
eventually lead to raising U.S. yields by several hundred million bushels a
Recently, Cregan found map markers near the first two of the four genes he
thinks give the plant resistance to cyst nematodes. These microscopic
roundworms rob farmers to the tune of 220 million bushels a year. He and
University of Minnesota colleagues are seeking markers for the other two
One of the biotech tools from the human genome project is called "simple
sequence repeats." Cregan and Nebraska colleagues are using it to search for
yield-boosting genes in a wild ancestor of soybeans.
With simple sequence repeats or SSRs, the scientists can draw maps that
allow them to systematically search for useful genes in the genome one
section at a time.
With SSRs, the scientists have developed more than 300 lines of soybeans in
which one-eighth of the original genome has been replaced by wild DNA
fragments. These lines are fertile breeding ground for finding
Scientific contact: Perry B. Cregan, ARS Soybean and Alfalfa Research
Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-6070, fax (301) 504-5728,
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