by Lana Koepke Johnson | Agronomy and Horticulture
Soy2023, the Biennial Cellular and Molecular Biology of the Soybean Conference, was held Aug. 10-13 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Lincoln, Nebraska. Over 160 scientists from national and international public and private sector institutions gathered to exchange ideas and research outcomes, and to discuss challenges in understanding soybean biology. Their goal is to ultimately communicate the collective information gathered to the soybean growers to translate this knowledge into application in soybean production, targeting improvements in yield and protection of yield.
Invited speakers covered the breadth of ongoing soybean research activities. The major thematic blocks of the conference included biotic interaction, genetic/breeding for output traits, proteomics/metabolomics, genomics/transcriptomics, breeding/genetics for yield/protection of yield and genetic engineering.
Jamie O'Rourke, United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service plant research geneticist at Iowa State University, presented career awards to three outstanding individuals during the closing banquet.
The Mary Coker Joslin Early Career Award was presented to Anna Locke, research plant physiologist with the USDA/ARS at North Carolina State University. Locke was recognized for her visionary research approaches that integrates fundamental inquiry with real-world problems. Locke has developed cross-disciplinary collaborations with a focus on addressing the effects of climate change on soybean production that are relevant to soybean producers’ on-farm decisions.
The Richard (Dick) Bernard Mid-Career Award was presented to Robert Stupar, professor in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota.
Stupar was nominated with the Bernard Mid-Career Award by Jim Specht, agronomy and horticulture professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, who noted that Stupar quickly gained the attention of the Soybean Genomics Research Community because of his innovative research ideas, novel experimental approaches and key discoveries. Stupar’s research program combines genetics/genomics, molecular biology, computational biology, field studies and plant transformation to make key contributions to our understanding in connecting genotype to phenotype in soybean.
The William J. Morse Career Achievement Award was presented to Anne Dorrance, professor of soybean pathology at The Ohio State University. Dorrance has had a distinguished 25-year career at OSU serving as director of the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences Center for Soybean Research which she established in 2017. She also served as associate dean and director of the OSU Wooster Campus and as associate director of the OSU CFAES Experiment Station.
Dorrance has made significant impact on the soybean community as a researcher, extension specialist and educator. Her research outcomes led to the development of numerous laboratory pathogen assays with organisms responsible for causing disease in agronomically important crops, including soybean. These methods have allowed for the design of numerous management strategies for mitigating disease outbreaks. Dorance is highly respected by Ohio producers for her enthusiasm and willingness to share her research with stakeholders. As an educator, Dorrance is known as a fierce advocate for enhancing professional development among young learners as the progress through their STEM career path.
Tom Clemente, agronomy and horticulture professor at Nebraska and conference host, presented research poster awards.
Posters were judged by five volunteers from the soybean community: Bing Stacey from the University of Missouri; Tim Durrett from Kansas State University; Michele Graham from USDA/ARS; Jamie O'Rourke from USDA/ARS; and Nathan Hancock from the University of South Carolina-Aiken. Novelty and utility of the project and the degree in which the poster was self-explanatory were the metrics used by the judges. The presenter’s point in their STEM career path was also taken under consideration.
First place went to Alina Smolskaya, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, for her poster titled “Mapping and Characterizing Oval Leaflet Shape in Soybean Associated with Low Number of Seeds Per Pod.”
Second place went to Rajnee Hasan, graduate student in biochemistry at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, for her poster titled “Enhanced Bioactivity of Day-4 Soybean Sprouts: A Potential Functional Food for Inflammation-Associated Diseases.”
Third place went to Vikranth K. Chandrasekaran, postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri, for his poster titled “Facilitating Gene Discovery in Soybean Through Mutagenesis: Identification of Novel Genes Controlling the Production of Four-Seeded Pods.”
Authors of seven submitted poster abstracts were selected to present their research outcomes during the oral sessions. Those selected include:
- Sutton Tennant, graduate student researcher, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Poster titled “Nuclear Retention of Transcripts as Regulatory Mechanism of Protein Translation in Soybean Root and Nodule Cells.”
- Hyojin Kim, postdoctoral researcher, Center for Plant Science Innovation, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Poster titled “Development of EPA- and Astaxanthin-Enriched Soybean Germplasm for Aquaculture Feedstocks.”
- Trish Tully, postdoctoral associate, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Poster titled “Increasing Sulfur Content in Soybean Seed Protein.”
- Sergio Alan Cervantes-Perez, postdoctoral research associate, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Poster titled “Tabula Glycine: The Glycine max Single-Cell Resolution Transcriptome Atlas.”
- Vishnu Ramasubramanian, postdoctoral associate, University of Minnesota. Poster titled “A Genomic Selection Pipeline for Public Soybean Breeding.”
- Md Sabbir Hossain, doctoral student, Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Poster titled “An Integrated Single-Cell Comparative Transcriptomic and Evolutionary Analysis of the Legume Membrane Microdomain-Associated Protein-Coding Genes During the Nodulation Process.”
- Vikranth K Chandrasekaran, postdoctoral fellow, Division of Plant Sciences, University of Missouri. Poster titled “Facilitating Gene Discovery in Soybean Through Mutagenesis: Identification of Novel Genes Controlling the Production of Four-Seeded Pods.”
Invited plenary speakers at Soy2023 were Julia Bailey-Serres, distinguished professor of genetics and MacArthur Foundation chair at the University of California, Riverside; Ganesh Kishore, co-founder and co-managing partner at Spruce Capital Partners and MLS Capital Fund II; and María Eugenia, professor of molecular biology and biotechnology at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Soy2023 conference organizing committee included University of Nebraska–Lincoln assistant professor of biochemistry Katarzyna Glowacka, associate professor of agronomy and horticulture Marc Libault and associate professor of biochemistry Toshihiro Obata.