December 9, 2008

Soybean genome available

The U.S. Energy Department's Joint Genome Institute has released the assembly of the soybean genetic mix to the research community.

The institutes's interest in sequencing the soybean was sparked by the legume's use for biodiesel, a renewable, alternative fuel with the highest energy content of any alternative fuel, the Energy Department said in a news release. Federal information indicates the soybean is responsible for more than 80 percent of biodiesel production.

The genome sequencing is the outcome of a memorandum of understanding between the departments of Energy and Agriculture, the Energy Department said.

Soybeans have been an important food plant providing essential protein to people for hundreds of years, said Gale A. Buchanan, USDA chief scientist and undersecretary for research, education and economics. Now, with the new knowledge available through this joint DOE-USDA genome sequencing project, researchers everywhere will be able to further enhance important traits that make the soybean such a valuable plant. It's a great day for agriculture and people everywhere.