Seed World

Researchers Find Gene That Controls Soybean Seed Permeability, Calcium Content

Purdue University researchers have pinpointed the gene that controls whether soybean seed coats are hard or permeable — a finding that could be used to develop better varieties for southern and tropical regions, enrich the crop’s genetic diversity and boost the nutritional value of soybeans.
Associate professor of agronomy Jianxin Ma and fellow researchers found that a mutation in the gene GmHs1-1 causes the tough seed coats of wild soybeans to become permeable. Farmers selected that trait about 5,000 years ago in a key step to domesticating soybeans from their hard-seeded relative, Glycine soja.
The gene could be modified to produce improved varieties for growing regions in which seed permeability can be a handicap, Ma says. GmHs1-1 is also associated with the calcium content of soybeans, offering a genetic target for enhancing the nutrition of soy food products.
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