With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), M. A. Saghai Maroof and his colleagues are leading a project to modify techniques that other researchers have used to isolate genes controlling disease resistance in tobacco and mustard weed, and apply them to soybeans. The goal is to create disease-resistant cultivars of soybeans and to help scientists at peer institutions target their soybean-breeding efforts. Two other multi-institutional projects funded by the National Science Foundation also aim for durable, disease-resistant soybeans.
In collaboration with USDA’s U.S. Wheat, Barley and Durum Variety Scab Resistance Data Initiative, Virginia Tech scientists have also been reducing losses in grain yield and quality in wheat due to Fusarium Head Blight, as well as ensuring food safety by developing resistant cultivars and effective management systems. They have already developed three wheat cultivars with resistance to this fungal disease.