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New invention may help control soybean cyst nematode

Posted Monday, December 6, 2010, at 1:49 PM

The effectiveness of the gene that makes the majority of soybean varieties resistant to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is faltering. The gene is PI88788 and has been a 30-year veteran in 97% of the SCN resistant varieties.

According to Purdue nematologist Jamal Faghihi, it is not working as well as expected since failure was first noted in 2005.

He indicated that Tennessee soybeans are no longer resistant, but Canadian beans are still resistant and soybeans in between are variable in their resistance to SCN. He indicates that farmers can switch to soybean varieties that contain Peking and CystX resistance soybeans to manage the nematode populations.

Recently an invention from Kansas State University (K-State) has been patented that is aimed at controlling SCN and preventing millions of dollars in crop damage each year.

The invention "Compositions and Methods for Controlling Plant Parasitic Nematodes" was developed by four K-State researchers. Through genetic engineering, the team engineered soybean plants with specific traits so that when nematodes feed on the roots they ingest these traits that turn off specific nematode genes. They targeted genes that were thought vital for the nematode to survive. They targeted three genes: MSP, or Major Sperm Protein which causes nematode sperm to move; Chitin synthase, the gene that helps form the eggshells on nematode offspring; and RNA Polymerase II, which is vital for RNA production. By controlling these three genes, these researchers were able to halt the reproduction of the nematodes and saw a 68-70% reduction in the presence of SCN without any negative off-target effects, or altered ways the altered genes could negatively affect the soybeans or animals and humans who ingest the soybeans.

This is a new and different approach for SCN control. It should be more difficult for

SCN populations to develop resistance to this type of resistance. Current SCN populations are composed of different biotypes which when exposed to sources of resistance are able to shift the proportion of the biotypes and overcome the resistant genes. It will be a while before this trait is available in commercial varieties, but it does offer hope for future SCN management.

The results of the Missouri Variety Performance testing for corn and soybeans are now complete. Copies of the corn results are arriving now at your local Extension offices. The results are also available for corn and soybeans on line at http://varietytesting.missouri.edu/.

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As our local University of Missouri Agronomy Extension Specialist, Crook has been writing a column for the print edition Agriculture page for the past three years and we will now be sharing it on our web version. Crook has a bachelor and masters degree in agronomy from University of Missouri and received his doctorate in Agronomy from Kansas State University. He was in soybean variety development research for 22 years for various seed companies and has been Saline County's agronomy specialist for 10 years.
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