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Research Highlights

Research Highlights
Bean Pod Mottle virus

By Kentucky Soybean Board

As farms are progressively becoming more efficient by taking steps to better their crops they increase the levels of technology which they use. Farmers can take mea­sures to use better fertilizer combinations or more reliable seed varieties; they can also use newer, more innovative equipment or different disease and pest management techniques in hopes of increasing yield and acreage. Any of this technology, the ideas, chemical, equipment, or seed, all come about through research, which has proven to be effective and beneficial to the crop.

One of the most harmful diseases a farmer can encounter in his bean crop is Pod Mottle Virus; this virus will not kill the entire crop, but it has the detrimental effects of significantly re­ducing the overall yields and bean quality. Although Pod Mottle Virus alone will not show extreme yield loss, only about ten to forty percent, the virus shown along with Soybean Mosaic Virus will greatly effect quality and yield in a crop.

Diseases have a major negative impact on all plants. Tradi­tional management strategies confer protection against spe­cific strains of a given pathogen, or are only partially effective, therefore, Dr. Aardra Kachroo has chosen instead to engineer the soybean plant in order to provide defense against numer­ous pathogens.

Dr. Aardra Kachroo, a professor and researcher at the Uni­versity of Kentucky, works as a plant pathologist. In her lab, Kachroo focuses primarily on her work with the soybean plants and has three related projects dealing with primary metabolic components in plant defense, soybean defense signaling, and soybean seed yield and quality. The Kentucky Soybean Promo­tion Board has sponsored her research and studies dealing with Bean Pod Mottle Virus and the Engineering of a natural resistance to it.

The goals of Kachroo’s work are to understand the soybean- Bean Pod Mottle Virus (BPMV) interaction and use this infor­mation for engineering a natural resistance to BPMV. Previous studies have shown correlations between the concentration of salicylic acid and severity of BPMV, increased levels of salicylic acid increases plant BPMV susceptibility. Her main goal is to determine the cause of BPMV susceptibility in high salicylic acid accumulating plants and use this information to engineer the resistance to BPMV in a soybean.

Since the starting phases of this experiment, Dr. Kachroo has been able to alter the expression of soybean sequences involved in fatty acid biosynthesis to produce plants that accumulate higher levels of Bean Pod Mottle Virus. One of these lines also yields larger beans, which could potentially counteract the yield lost to Bean Pod Mottle Virus and other pathogens.

One setback to her work is that by altering these sequences, she has generated plants, which exhibit enhanced symp­toms such as chlorosis and leaf crinkling in the plant. To an uninformed observer this may appear unpleasant to the eye. However, these chance discoveries have provided Kachroo with an avenue to understand what makes soybeans susceptible to Bean Pod Mottle Virus.

The proposed research by Dr. Aardra Kachroo is forecast to improve soybean productivity by lowering production costs, as well as, providing resistance against Bean Pod Mottle Virus. By testing the effects of altered salicylic acid and/or jasmonic acid production will support the progression of management strate­gies of BPMV infection in the soybean crop. Comprehension of the basis of susceptibility to BPMV in soybeans will present opportunities for generating BPMV resistant varieties, hence eliminating the need for insecticide use and lowering produc­tion costs.

Kachroo has been very successful in her research and find­ings thus far, and although there are a few kinks to be worked out, she is well on her way to solving an issue which many local farmers encounter and deal with.

To find research related to this Research Highlight, please visit the National Soybean Checkoff Research Database.