Purdue researchers discover genetic controls for seed calcium and permeability

Purdue researchers discover genetic controls for seed calcium and permeability | Courtesy of authenticnj.org
Researchers from Purdue University recently discovered the gene responsible for controlling a soybean’s permeability and calcium content.

This is significant because this gene can be used to create improved varieties for tropical or southern regions, better nutritional value and enhanced genetic diversity for soybeans.

The gene, GmHs1-1, can attain a mutation that makes the hard seed coating on wild soybeans more permeable. Centuries earlier, farmers chose this permeability as one way to domesticate soybeans rather than Glycine soja, a relative of the soybean that has a hard seed.

"This is the first gene associated with hard-seededness to be identified in any plant species," Jianxin Ma, associate professor of agronomy, said. "This discovery could help us quickly pinpoint genes that control this trait in many other plants. We're also excited about the potential applications for modifying the calcium concentration in seed coats. This could be transformative as we identify similar genes that control calcium levels in other legumes."

The gene’s modifications can be manipulated according to growing regions. This same gene is connected to the soybeans’ calcium content, which also makes a genetic target for scientists to use to improve the nutritional effects of soy food products.

"We finally understand the genetic change that allowed the domestication of soybeans," Ma said. "When we make this kind of discovery, we're always very excited."

Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, is the flagship university of the six-campus Purdue University system. It offers more than 200 options for major areas of study and has both undergraduate and graduate programs. Purdue enrolls more than 39,000 students.

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