Database Research Summaries
Development of High w-3 Soybean Germplasm

calendar_today Year of Research: 2018
update Posted On: 05/23/2019
group David Hildebrand (Principal Investigator, University of Kentucky)
bookmark United Soybean Board

Research Focus

The focus of this project is to determine the technical feasibility for developing soybean germplasm with a fatty acid profile that is beneficial to human health, including fatty acids such as arachidonic (AA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), stearidonic (SDA) and docosahexanoic (DHA).


  • Test soybean w-3 desaturases in yeast.
  • Combine highest activity w-3 desaturase with a soybean oil body oleosin promoter.
  • Insert this construct into soybeans & select highest w-3 somatic embryos.
  • Grow out highest performing w-3 soybeans plants. The high w-3 trait can readily be incorporated into highest yielding soybean cultivars that may serve as a new modified oil opportunity for utilization of soybean oil and thereby increase market share.


  1. The cloning of three soybean w-3 desaturases (GmFAD3s) was achieved and we have at least one correct clone each for GmFAD3A, 3B and 3C from the cultivar Williams 82. The GmFAD3 genes were re-cloned with new sets of primers to insert the appropriate restriction sites for inserting them into the pYES2 yeast expression vector. All three GmFAD3 genes were successfully ligated into the pYES2 vector and the correction insertion by restriction endonuclease (RE) digestion analysis was confirmed.
  2. The initial attempt to examine w-3 desaturase function in yeast resulted in no significant uptake of linoleic acid (LA)/no ALA accumulation due to miscalculation in the amount of LA added.
  3. Several attempts to clone approximately 4 kb upstream regions of the start codon of the soybean oleosin gene (Glyma16g07800) as well as about 2 kb downstream region of the oleosin gene have been unsuccessful.
  4. Another set of a putative seed specific expression promoter (3.6 kb) and terminator (1.7 kb) from GmFAD2 (Glyma20g24530) was successfully cloned.


  • Soybean farmers can benefit from a diversified oil profile due to both potential health implications and industrial applications.

For more information about this research project, please visit the National Soybean Checkoff Research Database.

Funded in part by the soybean checkoff.