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Iowa Soybean Research Center

in collaboration with the Iowa Soybean Association

ISRC Funds Four Research Projects

October 13th, 2021

AMES, Iowa – The Iowa Soybean Research Center recently awarded funding for four soybean research projects at Iowa State University, the largest level of funding invested in a single year by the ISRC since its inception in 2014.

The center’s Industry Advisory Council met in September to consider several research ideas and offer guidance on how to invest the funds that were available. Due to the high quality and innovativeness of the proposed research, and thanks to increased financial support provided by the Iowa Soybean Association, the ISRC granted a total of $320,000. The funded projects are described below.

  • Liang Dong, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Steve Whitham, professor of plant pathology and microbiology, will receive two years of funding to develop “Low‐cost Multimodal Sensor Arrays for Early Detection of Soybean Diseases.” The researchers aim to develop a diagnostic device for economical, rapid testing of soybean pathogens to better detect diseases at an early stage to reduce their spread and minimize damage. The technology will facilitate rapid monitoring of soybean crops during the growing season to help make management decisions that protect yield potential. Also, the technology will be used by researchers to better understand pathogen-induced stress in soybean at different stages and under diverse conditions.
  • Prashant Jha, associate professor of agronomy and extension weed specialist, will receive two-year funding for a project on “Enhancing Implementation and Adoption of Non‐Chemical Tactics for Integrated Weed Management in Soybean.” Waterhemp is one of the most problematic and economically damaging weed species in soybean, and its resistance to several herbicides has increased the need for management solutions. Jha received initial funding for this project from USDA‐NIFA Crop Protection and Pest Management Program in September 2021, working with collaborators from Arkansas and Kansas. The new ISRC support will help Jha expand the scope of the project through additional farm trials. His team will evaluate the effectiveness of two non‐chemical weed management tactics (cover crops and harvest weed seed control) in conjunction with herbicides while also quantifying the economic benefits and risks of adopting a diversified integrated weed management program.
  • Leonor Leandro, professor of plant pathology and microbiology, will receive two years of funding to continue and expand work the ISRC initially funded in 2020 titled “Time of Disease Onset as an Early Indicator of Soybean Resistance to SDS.” Leandro’s research team previously found that timing of the initial appearance of SDS foliar symptoms during the growing season was strongly correlated with late-season SDS severity and soybean yield. Leandro is exploring whether the timing of SDS symptom onset could be used as a more reliable measure of soybean resistance to SDS than late-season evaluations of disease that currently are used. The research could benefit soybean breeding programs by improving screening methods used to identify soybean lines resistant to SDS.
  • Steve Whitham, professor of plant pathology and microbiology, Lie Tang, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, and Danny Singh, professor of agronomy, will receive funding to study “Effects of Increased Atmospheric CO2 and Abiotic Stress on Soybean Performance in the Enviratron.” The research team will investigate soybean performance with respect to disease development and abiotic stress tolerance under future climate scenarios. More specifically, they will study the effects of COon soybean responses to pathogens and the effects of elevated ambient temperatures on soybean phenotype and gene expression. Experiments will be conducted in the Enviratron, a controlled-environment plant growth facility developed at Iowa State, to enable multiple environmental variables to be controlled to study effects on plant performance. The Enviratron is unique in that data collection is automated by the use of a robotic rover that visits the plants in growth chambers and collects data using an array of cameras and sensors. The long‐term goal of this research is to generate scientific insights and inform forward‐looking breeding approaches to develop soybean germplasm lines well suited for future crop production environments.