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Unveiling Of Soybean Genome Could Help Boost Crop Yields In Future

“Scientists on Wednesday unveiled the genome of the soybean, saying it was an achievement that should deepen understanding of one of the world’s most important crops, help to boost yields and defend the plant against pests,” Agence France-Presse reports. The study, published in the journal Nature, details the findings of the “[e]ighteen organisations, most of them American, [who] teamed up in a 15-year endeavour that yielded a draft of 85 percent of the soybean’s 1.1 billion base pairs, the ‘rungs’ in the double-helix ladder of DNA,” the news service writes (1/13).

“Soybean and other legumes play a critical role in global food security and human health and are used in a wide range of products, from tofu, soy flour, meat substitutes and soy milk to soy oil-based printing ink and biodiesel,” Molly Jahn, USDA deputy under secretary for research, education and conomics, said in a press release. “This new information about soybean’s genetic makeup could lead to plants that produce more beans that contain more protein and oil, better adapt to adverse environmental conditions, or are more resistant to diseases” (1/13).

Science News/U.S. News & World Report: “The soybean’s sequence will boost biologists’ understanding of relatives in the legume family as well, says Nevin Young of the University of Minnesota in St. Paul,” a researcher working to unravel the genetic code of the legume Medicago truncatula. “Legumes rank as the third largest family of flowering plants. Peanuts and lentils, as well as important crops in Africa and India such as the common bean, belong to the family, as do many of the trees in the Amazon Rainforest,” according to the publication (Milius, 1/13).