SoyCAP Planning Conference

A SoyCAP PLANNING CONFERENCE  was held december 16-17, 2005 in st. louis, mo. a white paper was developed from this meeting. the executive summary is shown below. the full document can be downloaded by clicking the link below (Adobe Reader required).

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SoyCAP: Roadmap for Soybean Translational Genomics.

Executive Summary

Soybean is the most valuable legume crop, with numerous nutritional and industrial uses due to its unique chemical composition. Recently, a group of legume specialists voted soybean as the ‘representative species’ of the phaseoloid legumes, the group that contains most legume crop species. Elucidating the genome sequence of soybean was chosen as the top priority. Through a series of past workshops and discussions, the soybean community developed and refined a cogent plan for soybean genomics. Many of the preliminary goals identified have already been accomplished. Thus, soybean is well positioned as a key model for translational genomics.

With this in mind and with funding from the USDA National Research Initiative, a SoyCAP planning conference was held in St. Louis, MO, from December 16-17, 2004. A largely elected steering committee organized the meeting, which was attended by 30 soybean experts, as well as observers representing industry, commodity groups and the USDA. Attendance at the conference was purposely slanted toward soybean breeders, since it is this group that will ultimately develop improved soybean germplasm, aided by genomic tools and information. Over a two-day period, with much give and take, the following three objectives, in order, were chosen as representing the most critical needs, as well as the areas to which translational genomics could be effectively applied:  

I.                     Biotic Stress: Efforts should be mounted to develop breeder-friendly molecular markers to identify QTL regions encoding resistance to a variety of soybean diseases and pests. A special focus should be placed on developing markers to aid breeders in developing soybean germplasm with decreased susceptibility to Asian soybean rust. Finally, transgenic approaches should be considered to develop soybean germplasm resistant to priority pathogens and pests, especially in those cases where genetic resistance has proved elusive.

II.                   Seed composition: Breeder-friendly molecular markers also should be developed towards seed target traits, in order to increase seed protein quality and quantity, without reducing seed yield or oil. Given the growing importance of biodiesel and the importance of oil quality in nutrition, efforts should be made to develop markers to allow breeders to engineer soybean with optimal oil composition. Finally, since soybean farmers are paid based on soybean seed yield, there is a need to broaden the soybean genetic base and foster technological innovations for sustainable yield improvements.

III.                  Abiotic stress: Environmental stress is among the leading causes of soybean yield reduction. Drought, iron limitation, heat and cold stress, and flooding were identified as key areas in need of additional research with the goal of developing breeder-based tools for soybean improvement. Among these, increased drought tolerance was chosen as the top priority for soybean improvement through translational genomics.

In addition to these research priorities, participants at the SoyCAP planning conference also set priorities with regard to information transfer, outreach, education and extension. Perhaps most notable, the participants called for the development of a novel, Web-based “Soybean Breeder’s Toolbox”. This resource in envisioned as an interactive database to deliver genomic and genetic information in a manner targeted for and conducive to breeding and crop improvement strategies. The Toolbox also will play an educational role.

Specific timelines were set to achieve the consensus goals identified. A management plan was developed, as well as policies on public release of information and intellectual property. A coordination committee was chosen and charged with preparing a SoyCAP grant proposal following the guidelines set during the planning conference.

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