NCSRP Production Research

The NCSRP Board approved the following research projects for funding for fiscal year 2016. Several of the projects are being jointly funded by the United Soybean Board and state checkoff boards.The areas emphasized for the coming year are soybean diseases, soybean cyst nematode, the soybean aphid, and genetic and biotechnology studies toward the improvement of host resistance and yield.


The NCSRP Board is confident that successful completion of the individual projects will significantly advance the understanding of some of the region’s major soybean production problems.

Projects funded for FY 2016 (click on title for summary and progress report)

  1. Accelerating Soybean Yield Improvement by Utilizing Yield Genes from Wild Relatives
  2. Accelerating Soybean Yield and Composition Improvement Through Genomic Selection
  3. An Integrated Approach to Enhance Durability of Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) Resistance for Long-Term Strategic SCN Management
  4. Benchmarking Soybean Production Systems in the North-Central USA
  5. Biology and Control of Sclerotinia Stem Rot
  6. Breeding to Improve Resistance to SDS in Soybean as a Means to Protect Yield – Delivering Resistant Varieties and Lines
  7. Characterization and Enhancement of Soybean Genetic Resources for Soilborne Disease Resistance
  8. Developing an Integrated Management and Communication Plan for Soybean Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in the North-Central Region
  9. Development of Soybean Genotypes with Enhanced Capacity for Nitrogen Fixation
  10. Disease Study Group: Focus on New and Emerging Soybean Diseases
  11. Engineered Resistance to SCN via Induced Gene Silencing
  12. Evaluation and Development of a Biological Control Product to Control Sudden Death Syndrome and White Mold
  13. Exploiting Potential Biocontrol Agents to Manage Seedling Diseases of Soybean
  14. Identifying High-Yield Genotypes in the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection
  15. Improving our Understanding of Stem Canker and How to Manage it in Soybean Across the Midwest
  16. Increasing Profits Through Genetic Resistance to SDS
  17. Initiation of a Genomic Selection Pipeline for Public Soybean Breeders in the North-Central Region
  18. Iron Deficiency Chlorosis: Getting to the Root of the Problem
  19. Micronutrients for Soybean Production: A Position Paper for the North-Central Region
  20. Seedling Diseases: Biology, Management and Education
  21. Soybean Entomology in the North-Central Region: Management and Outreach for New and Existing Pests
  22. Understanding the Role of Fungicide Programs on Soybean Health and Charcoal Rot Development

Glycine tomentella

Glycine tomentella

1. Accelerating Soybean Yield Improvement by Utilizing Yield Genes from Wild Relatives

Commercial soybean breeding companies are making major investments in producing new transgenic varieties and commercial soybean breeders are efficient and effective in producing new varieties using the limited genetic diversity available in the commercially used gene pool.  However, these companies are doing no research with perennial Glycine and very little research with wild soybean (G. soja) to exploit the important variation in these wild relatives and are dependent on the public sector to make these very important genetic resources available for commercial use.

We have preliminary data that indicate that very useful yield genes exist in both annual (Glycine soja) and perennial (Glycine tomentella) wild relatives of soybean (Glycine max) that are not being used in commercial soybean breeding today.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)


SoyNAM
SoyNAM.org website

2. Accelerating Soybean Yield and Composition Improvement Through Genomic Selection

 In this project, we are applying new genetic technology and breeding methods to address two bottlenecks in the soybean breeding process. The first bottleneck is the difficulty in effectively selecting new, high yielding varieties early in the breeding process. This is being addressed by testing a new breeding strategy called genomic selection (GS). The second bottleneck is our lack of good information for deciding what combinations of parents should be crossed in a breeding program. To identify solutions for this, simulations will be run to predict the best cross combinations. The GS methods will be developed using information gained from the soybean checkoff sponsored SoyNAM project.

Project Objectives:

  • Test the effectiveness genomic selection compared to standard breeding methods in soybean breeding populations; and
  • Develop methods to use genomic data in making cross combination decisions in breeding programs.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)

 

SCN
Variety trial for SCN resistance

3. An Integrated Approach to Enhance Durability of Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) Resistance for Long-Term Strategic SCN Management

 

Though SCN-resistant soybean varieties frequently are available to minimize yield loss, producers are faced with limited options for rotation once virulent SCN populations develop in their fields. The widespread lack of genetic diversity in SCN resistance in soybean has significantly increased the prevalence of virulent SCN populations and reduced the effectiveness of current sources of resistance. Thus, we have two major research challenges that, when successfully achieved, will enable us to develop more efficient management practices for this pest in the future.

 

Project Objectives

  • Plant breeders will increase the genetic diversity of SCN resistance in commercially available SCN-resistant soybean cultivars and work with nematologists to determine the most effective rotation practices that preserve these sources.
  • Nematologists will complete the SCN genome (genetic blueprint of the nematode) assembly to facilitate the identification of nematode genes required for the adaptation to reproduce on resistant cultivars, use these as markers to monitor nematode population shifts in the field, and exploit this knowledge to help plant breeders identify novel sources of resistance.
  • Growers will be informed on effective rotation schemes designed to protect our resistant sources.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)



4. Benchmarking Soybean Production Systems in the North-Central USA

This 3-year collaborative (interdisciplinary and inter-university) regional project (NE, WI, OH, MI, IA, IN, MN, KS, IL, and ND)  will solicit and use producer self-reported field yield and associated crop management practice data to  (1) evaluate current on-farm management relative to recommended optimal practices, and (2) discern the yield impact of individual factors, and their relative importance.

The primary goal of the proposed project is to “benchmark” current yield and management practices in producer fields across the north-central region of the U.S.. The "“benchmark data” will help to identify key management factors in each state (and across the north-central region) that can be used by individual producers to increase soybean yield on their farms, and do that with an input-use efficiency that will improve bottom-line net profit.

Read the latest progress report (July 2016)


white mold
Symptoms of sclerotinia stem rot (white mold) in a soybean field

5. Biology and Control of Sclerotinia Stem Rot of Soybean

Sclerotinia stem rot of soybean can be a significant yield-limiting disease in the north-central soybean production areas of the United States. Combinations of management strategies have been utilized to limit losses from SSR. These include cultural practices such as reduced tillage, crop rotation,and canopy management, as well as timely applications of fungicide.

Project objectives

  • Address factors affecting fungicide efficacy in the north-central states
  • Investigate soybean NADPH oxidases as a novel host resistance mechanism for resistance breeding
  • Determine the extent of emerging fungicide resistance
  • Develop new disease management strategies and outreach materials

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)



Planting resistant varieties is the key to managing SDS. Here a comparison of SDS-resistant varieties on either side of a susceptible variety.

6. Breeding to Improve Resistance to SDS in Soybean as a Means to Protect Yield – Delivering Resistant Varieties and Lines

The project draws upon the expertise of a multi-state group of researchers who are collaborating closely to develop varieties and breeding lines with SDS resistance. The goal is to deliver SDS-resistant soybean varieties to farmers, and experimental lines to the seed industry for breeding. Varieties and lines will be developed for maturity groups I to VI.

Up to now, breeders have been mostly working independently, with funds provided by state check-off funds. This has the drawback that promising genetic lines are generally not exchanged among researchers until the time of releasing the new material, often after 8 to 10 years of work. By the close collaboration established in this project, researchers have first-hand knowledge of promising lines early in their development, reducing the time from crossing to the release of public lines.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)

seedlings
 

7. Characterization and Enhancement of Soybean Genetic Resources for Soilborne Disease Resistance

Soilborne diseases caused by various oomycete and fungal pathogens have been a major limitation to soybean production. Phytophthora sojae, Pythium ultimum, Pythium irregulare, and Fusarium graminearum are the major pathogens in the North Central Regions.

Development and planting disease-resistant soybean cultivars remains the most practical, economical, and environmental-friendly solution for eliminating or reducing soybean yield losses from these pathogens. Due to rapid changes of the pathogen, most known resistance genes have become ineffective or partially effective.

The primary goals of this project are to characterize, identify, and/or isolate novel genes/QTLs conferring resistance or partial resistance to P. sojae, P. ultimum, P. irregulare, and F. graminearum, and to deploy the new sources of resistance towards effective disease management in the North Central region.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)


Chlamydospores (overwintering structure) of Fusarium viguliforme, the SDS pathogen.

8. Developing an Integrated Management and Communication Plan for Soybean Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) in the North-Central Region

The foundational management strategy for SDS is resistant cultivars. However, in some years when environmental conditions are especially favorable for SDS, it's been evident that resistance alone does not provide adequate control. The main goal of this project is to develop crop managment strategies that will ensure that SDS-resistant cultivars will be effective as possible.

This research project will evaluate current and future crop production practices and/or products, how these practices fit into an IPM strategy for SDS and if they enhance the efficacy of SDS-resistant sobyean cultivars.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)

nodulation on soybean root

Extensive N-fixing nodules on soybean roots

9. Development of Soybean Genotypes with Enhanced Capacity for Nitrogen Fixation

This study aims to overcome the current ceiling in N-fixation of soybean cultivars by generating new cultivars and breeding lines carrying genes for enhanced biological nitrogen fixation. Our strategy will be to generate recombinant inbred line (RIL) populations by crossing divergent materials for traits that directly and indirectly affect biological nitrogen fixation in soybeans.

In order to achieve this goal, we will use field phenotyping and genotyping with microsatellite (SSR) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers of these RIL populations which will allow us to identify QTL associated with traits that affect biological nitrogen fixation in soybean. Overall, we aim to offer(1) high-yielding cultivars that will not rely on inorganic N supply to express their maximum yield potential and (2) molecular markers that will accelerate the breeding process.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)


soybean vein necrosis
Soybean Vein Necrosis Virus, 2015

10. Disease Study Group: Focus on New and Emerging Soybean Diseases

Changes in crop production practices and environment impact disease severity and prevalence each year. There are diseases that are an annual threat, such as sudden death syndrome (SDS) and soybean cyst nematode (SCN), but many other diseases are sporadic, new, or emerging in the north-central region.

The North Central Disease Study Group, made up of six core collaborators in five midwestern states and Ontario, Canada, will bridge the gap between research and Extension for emerging disease threats and provide industry and farmers with the most up-to-date information available about emerging diseases each year.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)



11. Engineered resistance to soybean cyst nematode via induced gene silencing (RNAi)

Previous research has shown that turning off genes by a process known as RNA interference (RNAi) has tremendous potential as a new strategy to increase nematode resistance. This project will investigate the possibility of inserting target gene sequences into the nematodes to obtain durable genetic material lethal to SCN populations.

The researchers will engineer stable transgenic soybean plants with traits that can silence specific nematode genes, evaluate transgenic lines with SCN bioassays to confirm the effectiveness of the level of SCN resistance, and examine the durability of the transgenic traits on single and diverse populations of SCN.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)

12. Evaluation and Development of a Biological Control Product to Control Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) and White Mold

In the past few years, several new biological fungicides have been marketed or are in development in private industry that are reported to be effective in controlling SDS and/or white mold. These biological control agents are easy to reproduce and can be applied to soil as a bio-fungicide before planting. They are reported to establish in soil, killing the SDS and white mold fungus, and preventing new infection from occurring. In this study, we are conducting regional field tests in Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota to test the effectiveness of these products as well as an experimental biocontrol agent isolated from Iowa soil.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)


Rhizoctonia was not able to grow in the top part of the dish which was treated with the bacterial biocontrol agent, compared to the untreated bottom half.

13. Exploiting Potential Biocontrol Agents to Manage Seedling Diseases of Soybean

 

The bio-control activity of a collection of fungal species isolated from soybean production fields will be tested for the potential to improve management of soybean diseases caused by  Fusarium spp., Phytophthora sojae, and Pythium spp.

 

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)

14. Identifying High-Yield Genotypes in the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection

The USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection contains over 21,000 accessions including wild relatives, landraces, and cultivars from around the world. The majority of unimproved accessions come from China, where soybean was domesticated, as well as Japan and Korea, other areas of ancient cultivation. Domestication resulted in a loss of genetic diversity, with landraces retaining only about 63% of the diversity found in the wild Glycine soja.

Furthermore, 86% of the parentage of US commercial soybean cultivars released between 1947 and 1988 are accounted for by only 17 ancestral Pl accessions. Because it is limited, we need to more effectively use the available diversity in soybean. The goal of this project is to identify and use soybean germplasm with positive alleles for yield and other traits that can be bred into commercial cultivars to effectively increase productivity and expand the genetic base of US soybean varieties. A major challenge in plant breeding is how best to sample a large germplasm collection where phenotypic information for traits such as yield is absent or very limited.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)

Stem Canker
Stem Canker, 2015

15. Improving our Understanding of Stem Canker and How to Manage it in Soybean Across the Midwest

 

The goals of this project are to unravel the fungal species complex that cause stem canker and related diseases, and to identify soybean stressors that can influence stem canker in order to develop more effective and economical management strategies.

 

Project objectives

  • Determine the prevalence of Diaporthe species causing stem canker among the soybean producing states, and which Diaporthe species cause the most damage on soybean.
  • Evaluate if other diseases of stressors like soybean cyst nematode (SCN) reproduction affects stem canker development on soybeans. Other stressors might include, but are not limited to, high soil fertility and soybean aphid infestations.
  • Evaluate seed treatment and in-furrow fungicides for management of diseases caused by Diaporthe species.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)

16. Increasing Profits Through Genetic Resistance to SDS

Some soybean cultivars show good resistance to SDS, however, the inheritance of this resistance is complex because it is controlled by many genes. Improving our understanding of the genetic basis of resistance will help breeders become more efficient in developing new, high-yielding SDS-resistant cultivars.

This project focuses on the genetic basis of SDS resistance. The research spans from fairly basic research on the expression of genes in response to SDS infection to the more applied mapping and confirming of the genetic locations of resistance genes. The SDS resistance genes and marker technology developed in this project will be shared with the other SDS breeding projects and made available to public and commercial breeders.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)

17. Initiation of a Genomic Selection Pipeline for Public Soybean Breeders in the North-Central Region

The goal of this project is to increase the rate of genetic gain for yield among public soybean cultivars through more effectively utilizing genetic diversity in north-central breeding programs.

We will use the wealth of data that already exists within the public soybean breeding community to develop a regional genomic selection "pipeline" for soybean breeders in the region. The genomic prediction pipeline would assist soybean breeders to more effectively select for yield and to introgress diversity into their breeding program. The pipeline will evolve into a service for soybean breeders that will help address the major restraints to soybean breeding progress.

Project objectives

  • Compile existing phenotypic, genotypic, pedigree, and environmental data (weather, soil) from various projects on yield and diversity conducted in the North Central Region.
  • Identify large-effect alleles from exotic sources that improve yield potential of elite U.S. soybean lines

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)



Soybean field showing symptoms of iron deficiency chlorosis.
Photo: R.J. Goos, North Dakota State University

18. Iron Deficiency Chlorosis: Getting to the Root of the Problem

Iron deficiency chlorosis (IDC) occurs in the interveinal tissue of young leaves when iron is unavailable to the plant. This is a common problem for soybeans grown on the calcareous soils in the north central states of the US where high pH reduces iron availability to the plant. This availability is further reduced under the wet spring conditions due to the interaction of calcium carbonate with the soil. This results in early season IDC symptoms that are so damaging to yield.

In addition to the soil availability issue, not all varieties have the same ability to metabolize iron because of their different genetic makeup. Efficient plants can reduce the pH near their roots in a manner that releases iron. They also can convert the iron into a state that can be taken up by the root iron transport system and transfer the iron through the root system to the xylem where it binds to a carrier and is transported to leaves. Once it reaches the leaf, it must be unloaded into the cell and form a complex with the key components of the photosynthesis system. It is obvious from this brief summary that multiple genes must function properly to prevent IDC.

The goals of this project is to continue and refine our search for molecular markers and identification of candidate genes associated with iron deficiency (IDC) tolerance in soybean using state-of-the-art genomic technologies. The markers and genes will then be applied to breeding programs in a manner that leads to IDC-tolerant soybean varieties.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)

19. Micronutrients for Soybean Production: A Position Paper for the North-Central Region

Soybean growers in the region are asking many questions concerning possible soybean yield loss due to deficiency of micronutrients. However, there are few extension publications that address micronutrient issues. This is mainly because the available research is very old or funding has limited the scope of recent research at each state. The goal of this new multi-state project is to gather information across key states of the North Central region and prepare a regional position paper on rational use of micronutrients for soybean production.

Read the latest progress report (September 2015)


Soybean seedlings at emergence. Photo: University of Nebraska

20. Seedling Diseases: Biology, Management and Education

This project will address critical limitations in identifying and managing seedling diseases. Producers and industry will see benefits in the form of rapid diagnostics and management recommendations. This project will help industry in their assessments in pesticides and germplasm development.

Project objectives

  • Develop and deploy a panel of QPCR probes to identify and quantify fungal seedling pathogens of soybean.
  • Improve understanding of the biology of Rhizoctonia solani as a seedling pathogen of soybean, including monitoring shifts in fungicide sensitivity in R. solani populations.
  • Improve understanding of the biology of Fusarium sp. as a seedling pathogen of soybean, including the pathogenicity of Fusarium species and identification of resistant germplasm.
  • Improve understanding of the biology of Pythium as a seedling pathogen of soybean, including an evaluation of the effects of low temperature stress on soybean seedling susceptibility to disease and the contribution of seed treatments.
  • Determine the impact of seed treatments on the interaction of seedling pathogens.
  • Develop outreach materials to communicate research results with farmers and stakeholders.

Read the latest progress report (March 2016)

BMSB
Brown marmorated stink bug

21. Soybean Entomology in the North-Central Region: Management and Outreach for New and Existing Pests

Our interdisciplinary entomology and plant breeding team, comprised of 18 research and extension scientists in 12 states, has a long history of working together to solve insect problems of regional importance in soybean.

Although our recent efforts have been focused on soybean aphid, there are several new or emerging pests of soybean in the North Central Region which deserve attention. For example, economically damaging populations of native stink bugs are becoming more common in several states, and the introduced brown marmorated stink bug is spreading rapidly in the Midwest (in Ohio, where it has been in the North Central region the longest, some locations have experienced up to 30% yield loss from this pest).

Another insect, thrips, that have always been present in soybean at low levels have new damage potential as vectors of soybean vein necrosis virus.  While a massive research effort on such new and emerging pests is not yet practical, we are well poised for background work that will (1) diagnose the extent of current problems, and (2) position us well to respond to increasing problems in the future, by doing the background work necessary for management recommendations.

Another important area for entomological research in soybean is on pollinators. There is increasing evidence that soybean yield increases when plants are visited by pollinators, despite being bred for self-fertilization. This improvement varies between 6% to 18% depending upon type of pollinators present. Research in this proposal addresses the yield increase potential from these beneficial insects.

Other objectives relate to aphid resistant varieties, how to make this resistance durable and sustainable, and how they may fit economically into soybean production systems.

Read the latest progress report April 2016)


Death of young plant due to charcoal rot infection under extreme heat and drought conditions.
Photo: Chris Little, Kansas State University.

22. Understanding the Role of Fungicide Programs on Soybean Health and Charcoal Rot Development

Charcoal rot, caused by Macrophomina phaseolina, is a disease of growing importance in the North Central Region; yet current management options are limited. In addition, this disease is more severe when plants are stressed by heat and dry conditions. New fungicide programs and fungicide products are marketed to reduce plant stress, but these products and programs have not been evaluated to determine their impact on charcoal rot development and yield. The goal of this research is to understand under what conditions fungicides may reduce plant stress and yield loss due to charcoal rot so that we may improve our recommendations to farmers interested in using fungicides to mitigate plant stress and/or to manage charcoal rot.

Research objectives:

  • Determine the efficacy of pre-emergence fungicides applications on M. phaseolina colonization and soybean yield.
  • Evaluate various foliar fungicides applied at different times for efficacy against M. phaseolina to determine optimum foliar fungicide use for charcoal rot management.
  • Integrate research findings in NCSRP charcoal rot Extension materials.

Read the latest progress report (September 2015)