Research roundup

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Balancing SCN resistance and high isoflavone traits
Alexandra Sawatzky
If soybean isoflavone levels can be increased without jeopardizing traits for yield and soybean cyst nematode (SCN) resistance, the overall value and demand for Ontario soybeans will be greatly enhanced. With this in mind, Dr. Milad Eskandari, a professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus, is working to improve the understanding of potential interactions between these traits in soybean seeds.

In SCN-resistant varieties, it is hypothesized that higher isoflavone content is probably associated with lower yields, perhaps because increased levels of this phytochemical may interfere with the plant’s defense mechanism against the nematodes.

In the lab and in the field, Eskandari is analyzing the genetics involved in the expression of these traits. He will be crossing different parental lines and examining the genetic profiles of progeny with different levels of isoflavone and SCN resistance.

Eskandari is collaborating with Dr. Istvan Rajcan, a professor in the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph; Tom Welacky, research biologist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; and Albert Tenuta, lead field crop pathologist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus.

This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario. Funding has also been provided by Grain Farmers of Ontario.

Cropping red clover into winter wheat
Mallory Kohn
Red clover lowers the risk of corn and soybean crop failure during drought, say University of Guelph researchers.

After analyzing 30 years of data from a long-term rotation and tillage trial located at Elora Research Station, researchers Ralph Martin, Bill Deen, and Amélie Gaudin learned that diversifying a corn and soybean based cropping system by underseeding red clover into winter wheat produces more resilient cropping systems and improves yields under drought conditions. 

In hot and dry years, inclusion of winter wheat with underseeded red clover into corn-soybean rotations increased yield resilience by seven per cent for corn and 22 per cent for soybeans.

Crop diversification strategies also increased the probability of harnessing favourable growing conditions while decreasing the probability of having low yields.

Now, researchers want to further understand the plant and soil mechanisms involved in decreasing system vulnerability to low soil moisture by investigating how rotation complexity and tillage alter the amount of plant available soil water, corn and soybean ability to use water resources, and the effect on yields under imposed drought stress.

Collaborators include wheat specialist Peter Johnson and corn specialist Greg Stewart from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association.

Funding is provided by the partnership between the University of Guelph and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.


Research Roundup is provided by members of SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) at the University of Guelph’s Office of Research. For more information, contact a SPARK writer at 519-824-4120, ext. 52667.

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