Tool helps identify gene function in soybeans

Dec 01, 2008

In the race for bioengineered crops, sequencing the genome could be considered the first leg in a multi-leg relay. Once the sequence is complete, the baton is passed forward to researchers to identify genes' functions. A draft sequence of the soybean genome is now available, and the complete genome will be available soon. Taking the next step in a new study, University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Plant Group researchers have demonstrated the applicability of a genomic tool for identifying gene function in soybeans. Understanding gene function in soybeans will ultimately benefit crop performance.

The new genomic tool uses transposons, which are fragments of DNA that can "hop around" the genome. When these fragments move, they often land within an existing gene sequence, causing a mutation, or disruption, in that gene's function. By "tagging" transposons, scientists have found that they can screen plants for visible mutations in important agronomic traits, such as seed composition or root growth.

By "tracing" a tagged transposon, scientists can easily identify the exact gene where any single mutation occurs. This technique has been successfully used in a number of plants, including maize and the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. In the study, IPG scientists demonstrated the feasibility of this technique in the soybean.

"Studying gene function in soybeans presents special challenges because the plant is tetraploid, meaning it has extra copies of most genes," said IPG member Gary Stacey, lead author of the report and an investigator in the MU Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center. "Nevertheless, we were able to create a number of plant variants containing different mutations and to identify a specific gene associated with a particular mutation, specifically male sterility."

Several of the scientists involved in the study were part of a team that was recently awarded a three-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to test the feasibility of additional functional genomic techniques in soybean.

"Our goal is to create a repository that will be a resource for the soybean community to study gene function and that, in the long run, will aid in translating genomics data into information that will ultimately benefit crop performance," Stacey said.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

Explore further: Study on world's biggest animal finds more than one population in the southeastern Pacific

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

International team maps 'big bang' of bird evolution

Dec 11, 2014

The genomes of modern birds tell a story of how they emerged and evolved after the mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs and almost everything else 66 million years ago. That story is now coming to light, ...

Research reveals structure of key CRISPR complex

Dec 10, 2014

Using a gene-editing system originally developed to delete specific genes, MIT researchers have now shown that they can reliably turn on any gene of their choosing in living cells.

Pirate viruses caught in their own trap?

Dec 02, 2014

In order to infect a host cell and proliferate, some viruses, such as the hepatitis C virus, infiltrate the ribosomes, the molecular machines that assemble the proteins present in each of our cells. Viral ...

Recommended for you

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

1 minute ago

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion ...

Warming leads to more run-ins with polar bears

3 hours ago

Word spread quickly: a polar bear, then two, were spotted near this remote Inuit village on the shores of Hudson Bay, about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) north of Montreal.

Japanese scientist resigns over stem cell scandal

3 hours ago

A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on ...

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.