|soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi) by Daren Mueller, Iowa State University, Bugwood.org|
Researchers have known for years that certain wild relatives of commercial soybean have genes which impart resistance to diseases. However, they have been unsuccessful at cross-breeding the plants since 1979 and it was thought impossible for them to produce reproductive plants. But by exposing the hybrid's aborted, immature seeds to a hormone treatment, the seeds matured and the plants were able to be grown and bred. Many generations of crossing the hybrids with the 'Dwight' soybean cultivar until only the desirable disease resistance traits were retained from the wild parent. The new lines are resistant to soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode, or phytophthera root rot and some even have higher yield or protein content too. These new genes will be able to add many new traits to existing breeding programs.
Source Article: Plant breeder boosts soybean diversity, develops soybean rust-resistant plant