The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point will receive $150,000 of
a $450,000 grant from the United Soybean Board for research led by Associate
Professor of Biology Devinder Sandhu. The plant geneticist is renowned for work
to improve soybean yield and quality.
The three-year grant begins March 1. At least 10 undergraduate
students at UW-Stevens Point will work with Sandhu on this project aimed at
improving genetic traits in soybeans.
United States leads the world in producing soybeans, the second largest crop in
Wisconsin. To stay competitive in the world soybean market, plant geneticists
look for ways to produce soybeans with improved oil quality, sugar and protein
improve soybean seed traits, Sandhu and his student researchers must first
identify and characterize genes that control various traits. Sandhu was part of
a group of scientists from all over the world who sequenced the entire soybean
genome in 2010.
2013, his research confirmed that a “jumping gene” induced random mutations in
soybean genes resulting in undesirable traits. He used “jumping gene” to
characterize several soybean genes.
next step is to test this on a larger scale. An estimated 100,000 plants will
be grown at a collaborating research facility, Iowa State University. Students
in Sandhu’s plant genetics lab at UW-Stevens Point will use several genetic and
molecular approaches to determine the links between genes and characteristics.
which genes control specific traits, we will be able to develop high yielding,
disease- resistant and nutritionally superior soybean varieties,” he said.
project provides training and research experience for undergraduate students,
preparing them for graduate school or future jobs. These student researchers
present their work at national and international scientific meetings and
publish their work in scientific journals, Sandhu said.
“This will be a great tool for
scientific community working on soybeans. I am proud that UW-Stevens Point is a
central player and leader in this cutting-edge research,” he said.