Drought-Hardy Soybean Lines with Stamina
By Rosalie Marion
Bliss November 6, 2008
A team led by Agricultural
Research Service (ARS) plant geneticist
Carter will soon release advanced soybean breeding lines that carry
slow-wilting traits. These lines perform well under drought conditions, and
also show good yield potential when rainfall is plentiful. Private seed
companies and public soybean breeders can use the drought-tolerant lines as
breeding stock to develop high-yielding varieties adapted to stressful U.S.
Carter is with the ARS
and Nitrogen Fixation Research Unit in Raleigh, N.C. "Team Drought" is a
group of researchers at five universities, which Carter heads. They aim to
develop drought-tolerant breeding lines across a range of maturity groups for
adaptation to every soybean-growing area of the country.
The slow-wilting lines yield 4 to 8 bushels more than conventional
varieties under drought conditions--depending on the region and environment.
For example, where normal soybeans would yield 30 bushels per acre under
drought conditions, the slow-wilting types can surpass those yields by about 5
bushels per acre.
Under drought conditions, the typical American soybean crop can drop
to a fraction of its yield potential. Adding genetic diversity to the U.S.
soybean industry will help protect the food supply from vulnerabilities.
For more than 25 years, Carter has been working on transferring
slow-wilting characteristics from Asian landraces, which are foreign
"introductions," into U.S.-adapted varieties. As the team gets the slow-wilting
trait into high-yielding lines, they share those new lines with industry
The Team Drought project is funded by ARS and a grant from the
United Soybean Board, a group of
farmer-directors who oversee investments of the soybean checkoff fund on behalf
of all U.S. soybean farmers.
more about the research in the November/December 2008 issue of Agricultural
ARS is a scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.