Project Details:

Title:
Increased soybean yield potential through enhanced root architecture and biochemistry

Parent Project: Increased soybean yield potential through enhanced root architecture and biochemistry
Checkoff Organization:Tennessee Soybean Promotion Board
Categories:Agronomy, Breeding & genetics
Organization Project Code:20-151-R
Project Year:2020
Lead Principal Investigator:C Neal Stewart Jr (University of Tennessee-Institute of Agriculture)
Co-Principal Investigators:
Keywords:

Contributing Organizations

Funding Institutions

Information and Results

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Project Summary

This proposal is a continuation of research that focuses on soybean plants with increased root length and branching to boost yield and resiliency of yield in Tennessee. A strong root system is necessary for maximized plant nutrition, defense, and water use. Drought tolerance is impossible, for instance, without a robust root system, which is especially important in soybean during pod fill. Soybean plants with increased root length and branching would significantly improve water/nutrient uptake efficiency and yield potential in diverse environments. Such improvement is the primary goal of our project. Improving roots, improves crop yield.

Our previous work (TSPB 2019) involving transgenic soybean hairy roots demonstrated that in-depth characterization of our candidate "root genes" resulted in discovery of two novel soybean genes potentially involved in root growth and promoting tolerance to drought stress in soybean. Here we propose to continue our research by producing stable transgenic soybean plants overexpressing these novel genes and evaluate their impact on root growth and stress tolerance to challenging environmental conditions. The soybean plant is the focus for engineering soybean with these two novel genes. The result should facilitate a roadmap for breeding and developing high yielding soybean varieties.

Our TSPB "root genes" project focuses on the underground to make a better soybean crop, and more of it aboveground.

Project Objectives

Objective 1. Produce stable transgenic soybean plants overexpressing the novel soybean "root genes."
As we detailed in our progress report TSPB 2019, our results involving transgenic soybean hairy roots clearly showed that overexpression of two of the candidate "root genes" confer increased root growth and tolerance to drought stress in soybean. The first aim is to produce stable transgenic soybean plants to assess their impact on root growth and promoting tolerance to drought and nutrient deficiency. The protein-coding sequences of these novel "root genes" will be mobilized into overexpression vector suitable for stable soybean transformation. Soybean will be transformed via Agrobacterium-mediated cotyledonary-node transformation method. Multiple transgenic soybean plants will be produced for each of the gene of interest. Transgenic lines will be characterized for the level of gene expression by real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR (qRT-PCR). Transgenic lines will be selected to represent a range of transgene expression. Segregation analysis and seed bulking will be performed.

Objective 2. Evaluate the stable transgenic soybean plants from Objective 1 for their impact on root growth and promoting tolerance to drought and nutrient deficiency.
Stable transgenic soybean plants with low, moderate, and high levels of transgene expression will be used for the evaluations to better understand the potential utility for improved root growth and stress tolerance in soybean. The transgenic lines will be analyzed for root architecture and stress tolerance. We will characterize the soybean plants for root length, lateral root branching, root surface area as well as their impact on drought tolerance following water stress treatment. Ultimately, we will investigate the impact of the genes on soybean production by measuring the number of pods per plants, number of seeds per pod, and assessment of seed quantity.

Project Deliverables

We expect that the discovery of the novel root-important genes identified in our research will lead to the production of soybean with deeper and more extensive root systems. In turn, these plants will have improved performance and yield, particularly under conditions of limited water and nutrient availability. These outcomes may be accomplished with or without being regulated as a GMO, depending on the gene and its effect. The present study provides a basis for development of soybean lines with improved growth and tolerance to abiotic stresses.

Progress of Work

Final Project Results

Benefit to Soybean Farmers

Performance Metrics

Project Years