CoPIs: Tom Clemente (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Gary Stacey (University of Missouri-Columbia), and Carroll Vance and Robert Stupar (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)
Soybean is the world's largest single source of vegetable protein and edible oil and thus a key crop for meeting the nutritional needs of the increasing global population. Therefore, a thorough understanding of soybean genetics will be important for the development of new soybean varieties to meet the nutritional, environmental, and industrial requirements that soybean will fulfill over the coming decades. There are many research tools available that facilitate the genetic study of soybean. However, there has been one resource notably absent for soybean - reverse genetic tools. These tolls provide a way to identify and determine the function of soybean genes of academic, biological, or agricultural importance. Therefore, the long-term goal of this project is to build upon previous funding to develop and distribute the resources to needed to investigate the function of soybean genes, especially those involved in soybean quality and yield. The primary objective of the project is to provide novel mutant plants for soybean functional genomics research. This goal will be accomplished by building and cataloguing a collection of soybean insertional and gene activation mutants derived by engineering soybeans with a transposable element from rice which naturally moves around the genome and inserts itself into other genes. When the transposable element inserts itself into soybean genes, it prevents the gene from functioning which in turn can alter the appearance of the plant, or can be detected in the laboratory. Fast neutrons will also be used to derive additional mutations, as fast neutrons delete genes altogether, also changing the plant's appearance. The change in appearance that results from disrupting or deleting a gene is a direct indication of that gene's function.
All of the genetic stocks developed by this work will be made available to the soybean research and breeding communities upon request. To aid in identifying and distributing mutant plants, interested researchers will attend workshops where they will search for mutants that are relevant to their research programs. Besides the basic research community, soybean breeders also will benefit directly, by gaining the ability to make informed decisions about which genes to select for in order to more easily develop higher-yielding, disease and stress resistant soybean varieties. Genotype and phenotype information will be available via SoyBase (www.soybase.org), Soybean Knowledge Base (SoyKB; http://soykb.org), and/or the project website at http://soymutants.uga.edu.