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The interaction between soybean seed isoflavones and soybean cyst nematode resistance

Principal Investigator

Milad Eskandari

Research Institution

University of Guelph

External Funding Partners

This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.

Project Start

April 2014

Project End

October 2017


  • To develop Ontario-adapted high yielding and soybean cyst nematode (SCN) resistant soybeans with elevated seed isoflavones and protein contents.
  • To study the interaction between SCN and isoflavones in soybean seeds.
  • To develop molecular and breeding tools that can facilitate the development of superior soybeans with high isoflavone levels and resistance to SCN.


  • The development of superior value-added food-grade soybean cultivars will allow Ontario growers to remain globally competitive.
  • The development of soybean cultivars with increased seeds protein and isoflavones levels will allow for the production of soybean-based foods and drinks industries with better nutritional and therapeutic properties.
  • The development of new soybean cyst nematode (SCN) resistant cultivars will allow farmers to better manage SCN population level and race variability in their fields.

Scientific Summary

Soybean is the largest crop grown in Ontario, with more than 2.9 million acres being seeded in 2015. Currently, up to 70 percent of Ontario soybeans are exported abroad, and Asia is the largest export region with more than 40% of total exports in 2015. Identity-Preserved (IP) soybeans are a growing market for Ontario farmers. Currently, about 75% of Canada soybeans exports to Asia are classified as IP soybeans. Soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is the most damaging pest of soybean in Ontario as it is the main cause of seed yield and quality losses. SCN accounts for annual yield losses worth of up to $30 million in Ontario. It means that new soybean cultivars in Ontario, especially in its southwestern area, would need to be SCN resistant to minimize SCN’s impact on seed yield and quality, and also to be used as part of an integrated pest management approach to manage and control SCN populations in the fields.

This project aims to develop new superior Identity-Preserved (IP) food quality soybeans. To maintain profitability of Ontario IP soybean production and export markets, it will be necessary to develop new value-added cultivars beyond traditional characteristics that meet the specific needs and quality traits of different end-users, particularly in Asia. Soybean-derived food products with high isoflavones have received increasing attention these days due to their nutritional and therapeutic properties. SCN is the most damaging pest of soybean in Ontario, which indicates new soybean cultivars in Ontario would need to be SCN-resistant. The outcome of this project, while providing the knowledge that is important for the breeding program to facilitate the development of new superior value-added soybean cultivars adapted to Ontario, is expected to have significant impact on the Ontario soybean growers’ production and the IP export industry through the commercial release of new high yielding and protein soybeans with elevated isoflavone concentration and SCN resistance.

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