Focusing on flood-tolerant soybeans

Jul 24, 2012 By Ann Perry
Tara VanToai, retired ARS plant physiologist, and Thomas Doohan, a student at Ohio State University, collect soybean plants and root samples to analyze them for response to flooding stress.   Credit: Peggy Greb

Soybean varieties that thrive even in soggy fields could result from studies by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. This would help increase profits for Mississippi Delta farmers who can see yield losses as high as 25 percent when they plant soybean crops in rotation with paddy rice.

This work is being conducted by former Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Tara VanToai, who now works as a collaborator at ARS' Soil Drainage Research Unit in Columbus, Ohio. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency, and this research supports the USDA priority of ensuring international food security.

For more than two decades, VanToai has studied flood tolerance in soybeans in a range of environments, including greenhouses, laboratories, growth chambers, experimental fields and farm fields. She and her colleagues are finding and incorporating genes from non-native in an effort to supplement the narrow genetic base of U.S. soybeans and improve their tolerance to and associated diseases.

In one study, VanToai used outdoor "screenhouses"—which are greenhouses with screens instead of glass—to assess the flood tolerance of 21 soybean lines. This study included soybean lines native to Vietnam and Cambodia, lines developed via selection by farmers and gardeners, and lines from Australia, China, Japan and Taiwan that were created with modern breeding techniques.

The plants were grown in pots. When each plant was in full bloom, it was placed for two weeks in a bucket of water so that the water level was two inches above the soil surface. The screenhouse tests identified the top three flood-tolerant lines: Nam Vang, which is native to Cambodia; VND2, native to China; and ATF15-1, which is native to Australia. Plants from these three lines grew the tallest and produced the biggest seeds and highest yields. When the study was replicated in flooded experimental fields, the results were the same.

Explore further: Bitter food but good medicine from cucumber genetics

More information: Read more about this work and other research VanToai has conducted on soybean flood tolerance in the July 2012 issue of Agricultural Research magazine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Soybean genetic treasure trove found in Swedish village

Jul 29, 2011

The first screening by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists of the American ancestors of soybeans for tolerance to ozone and other stresses had an eye-opening result: The world superstars of stress ...

Breeding ozone-tolerant crops

Aug 22, 2011

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists working with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that future levels of ground-level ozone could reduce soybean yields by an average 23 percent.

Higher carbon dioxide levels used on crops, examined

Sep 16, 2010

Crops responded positively to future levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), but soil tillage practices had little effect on this response, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study. ...

Monitoring ground-level ozone from space

Aug 29, 2011

Satellite views of the Midwestern United States show that ozone levels above 50 parts per billion (ppb) along the ground could reduce soybean yields by at least 10 percent, costing more than $1 billion in lost crop production, ...

Recommended for you

Bitter food but good medicine from cucumber genetics

8 hours ago

High-tech genomics and traditional Chinese medicine come together as researchers identify the genes responsible for the intense bitter taste of wild cucumbers. Taming this bitterness made cucumber, pumpkin ...

New button mushroom varieties need better protection

12 hours ago

A working group has recently been formed to work on a better protection of button mushroom varieties. It's activities are firstly directed to generate consensus among the spawn/breeding companies to consider ...

Cataloguing 10 million human gut microbial genes

Nov 25, 2014

Over the past several years, research on bacteria in the digestive tract (gut microbiome) has confirmed the major role they play in our health. An international consortium, in which INRA participates, has developed the most ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.