Genetic Engineering Benefits
Researchers from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), working together with researchers from Iowa State University (ISU) and Brazil, have discovered soybean genes that are resistant to Asia soybean rust.
After mapping the soybean genome, the researchers found that there were five areas, Rpp1, Rpp2, Rpp3, Rpp4 and Rpp5, that helped the soybean plant resist an ASR attack. Further research that included comparisons between resistant and susceptible cultivars led to the identification of the ASR-resistant Rpp4C4 gene in the Rpp4 region.
Once they have identified and isolated ASR-resistant genes, researchers can either combine these genes into one line by the gene pyramiding process, or make a gene construct by recombining the selected genes by genetic engineering in the lab.
Gene pyramiding is a selective breeding process where different specimens with the required genes are crossed until you can get all these genes in a single specimen.
Making a gene construct is a much quicker process and so more preferred these days. In this type of plant genetic engineering, the combined gene construct is cloned to produce a good number of copies and these copies are then injected or inserted with a bacterium vector into the embryonic soybean plant tissue. The genetically engineered plants with the required genetic traits are then developed and cultivated.
This way you have soybean cultivars that have several genes that are resistant to the Asia soybean rust disease. Proponents of this technology believe that widespread use of such genetically modified ASR-resistant cultivars will bring down production costs; fungicides may still be needed, but in smaller amounts. It will bode well for farmers, manufacturers and consumers as well as for the environment.