Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. and Kansas State University together have taken a major step forward in the battle against soybean aphids. A reliable laboratory screening method has been jointly developed by the two organizations to help Pioneer scientists identify promising sources of resistance to this devastating pest.
"The research, conducted over the past three years, has resulted in identification of new sources of superior aphid resistance that are being incorporated into elite varieties by Pioneer soybean breeders," says John Soper, director of soybean research, Pioneer. "By 2010, we expect to have a much broader range of aphid-resistant varieties in our product lineup."
John Reese, Kansas State University professor of entomology, served as the lead university researcher on the project.
The first step in the research process was to develop screening techniques or protocols, he says. From there, specific protocols for antibiosis and nonpreference were used to analyze the Pioneer brand soybean varieties.
Reese explains antibiosis is the plant's natural ability to ward off pests by killing the insect or dramatically slowing its reproduction. Alternatively, nonpreference is the plant's ability to deflect pests to more sought-after or preferable varieties, he adds.
"Using these protocols, our results were remarkably consistent throughout each of our trials," says Reese. "Time and again we found the same soybean varieties had the same levels of resistance or susceptibility to soybean aphid."
In biological trials, such as this, it is a challenge to get highly repeatable results, but that was not the case with this study, says Reese.
"The consistency of the laboratory screening results with preliminary field observations gives us a great deal of confidence that we are introducing a new precedent-setting production tool that will benefit North American soybean growers for years to come," says Soper.