story to find out more.
Geneticist Niels Nielson inspects soybean seeds
before planting them as experimental controls. The seeds had been soaked in a
chemical "soup" to induce mutations. Click the image for more
information about it.
TILLING for Heart-Healthy Soybean Oil
By Don Comis
July 5, 2005
In two years, you'll be able to buy
nonhydrogenated soybean oil for the first time--that means no trans fats. And
by 2009, you'll be able to buy soybean oil that will rival olive oil for its
Improving soybean oil quality is a top priority of both industry and
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists such as biologist
Ritchie and her colleague, geneticist
Nielsen. Both are in the ARS
Production and Pest Control Research Unit at West Lafayette, Ind.
Capitalizing on the technology unleashed by the human genome project, the
legume industry, funded by farmers, has formed the U.S. Legume Crop Genomics
Initiative. One new genetic tool is called TILLING--for Targeting Induced Local
Lesions in Genomes. This tool is making it possible to reap many of the
benefits of genetic engineering without the disadvantages, real or perceived.
Among the first benefits from Ritchie and Nielsen's work with TILLING will
be heart-healthy soybean oil and higher-protein soybeans. Hypoallergenic
legumes should follow closely after. Since 2002, Ritchie and Nielsen have been
creating special TILLING lines of soybeans for breeders. They make them from
the Williams 82 soybean variety because it's the standard for soybean genome
These lines come from seeds with induced mutations that are revealed by a
bulge or lesion that occurs at the site of a mismatch between a mutant strand
of DNA and a normal strand. The plants grown from them can then be tested to
see which gene functions have been changed by a particular mutation, helping
breeders trace genes back to their functions.
For the allergen studies, Nielsen works with ARS molecular biologist
Herman at St. Louis, Mo., and Rick Helm at
Arkansas Children's Hospital Research
Children's Nutrition Center in Little Rock.
To learn more about
this research, see the July 2005 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.