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Gene controlling soybean meristem growth identified

One of the first discoveries stemming from the completion of the soybean genome last year is the identification of the gene that controls meristem growth in soybeans. Researchers from the US Purdue University (Indiana) identified the gene, dubbed Dt1, that determines whether plant stems will continue to grow after flowering has initiated. Soybeans that do are described as “indeterminate”’, while those where meristem growth is halted by flowering are “determinate”. The researchers, led by Jianxin Ma, found that a single base pair mutation in the Dt1 gene confers determinate phenotype. He notes that indeterminate varieties are grown mainly in the northern US, and determinate in southern states. Importantly, the same desirable characteristics may not be available in both soybean types. Professor Ma says that he will next like to identify a gene that confers a semi-determinate phenotype. Details of the research were published in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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