Enhancing Water Stress Tolerance in Soybean Through Phytoglobin Manipulations

Crop Soybean
Start Date2016
End Date2018
Principal InvestigatorStasolla, Claudio, University of Manitoba
MPSG Financial Support$123,000
Total Project Funding$173,000
ReportStasolla Final Extension Report – Feb 2019

Research Objectives

  1. Develop soybean plants with altered expression of phytoblobin (Pgb) able to tolerate soil flooding (waterlogging) and submergence (whole plant submergence)
  2. Determine if Pgb can be used as a molecular marker to assess waterlogging and/or submergence tolerance
  3. Conduct preliminary studies to assess if Pgb can also be used to enhance drought stress tolerance

Project Description

With historical crop damage due to waterlogging/flooding conditions in Manitoba, the sustainable production and expansion of soybeans on the Prairies require successful development of cultivars with improved tolerance to sub-optimal soil moisture conditions. Phytoglobins (Pgb), expressed during growth, development and in response to environmental and pathogen stresses, likely have a universal role in alleviating flooding/waterlogging stress.  This project will develop (through genetic manipulations) soybean plants with altered expression of Pgbs, enhancing the crop’s waterlogging and/or submergence tolerance. Researchers will then determine if Pgbs can be used as a molecular marker to assess waterlogging and/or submergence tolerance, and subsequently, correlate the tolerance of commercial soybean cultivars to the expression levels of Pgb. In addition, because Pgbs may also be a factor in drought tolerance, developed soybean cultivars with altered Pgb levels and commercial cultivars will be utilized to determine if Pgb confers drought tolerance. A comprehensive investigation of this mechanism of excess water/drought resistance is essential to proceed with introgression of the trait into commercially viable soybean cultivars. Having a more tolerant cultivar will result in increased profitability for farmers as a result of minimizing crop failure when fields are completely inundated and increasing yield in fields where depressions cause localized damage to plants as a result of lingering soil moisture.