Researchers at the University of Illinois claim it is possible to breed soybeans that produce more protein.
The study has been published in Crop Science.
Soybean meal contains high-quality protein. Globally, close to 98% of soybean meal produced is used in animal feed. However, it is difficult to develop soybean varieties with both high protein levels and high yields. These two characteristics are negatively correlated: when soybean yields are high, protein levels tend to decrease, and vice-versa.
Plant breeder Brian Diers and colleagues at the University of Illinois tested a gene that increases protein by breeding it into two different varieties of soybean. The results were promising. Plants of both varieties with the high protein gene had increased protein concentration and did not show a significant decrease in yields.
Diers is now working on generating a more detailed map of chromosome 15. A more precise genetic map could help breeders generate other high-protein varieties of soybean.