Developing novel soybean lines with resistance to viral diseases

Principal Investigator

Aiming Wang

Research Institution

University of Western Ontario / Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

External Funding Partners

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC)

Project Start

January 2014

Project End

December 2016


  • Generate a soybean mutant population through ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS, a mutagenic chemical).
  • Screen for mutants resistant to soybean mosaic virus (SMV) and related soybean viruses.
  • Determine the genetics and molecular mechanisms of resistance of identified mutants and introduce identified mutants to breeding programs.


  • The advancement of knowledge in soybean mosaic virus (SMV)-soybean interactions may lead to soybean cultivars with improved resistance to SMV.
  • The development of novel genetic resistance to SMV will allow farmers to incorporate SMV resistant soybean to their cropping rotations, reducing their yield losses to SMV and rejections of crop in the food-grade market.
  • The development of new SMV resistance sources for breeding programs will allow breeders to incorporate SMV-resistance into more soybean cultivars and increase the availability of SMV-resistant commercial varieties.

Scientific Summary

Viral pathogens infect soybean wherever it is grown in the world. Viral diseases have a significant impact on yield, quality and marketability of soybeans. The incidence of a particular viral disease may vary dependent on regions and years. Among known near 70 viral pathogens that can infect soybean, soybean mosaic virus (SMV) is the most prevalent one that impedes soybean production. The virus is seed-borne and infection is transmitted by aphids. The SMV infection results in mosaic mottling, chlorosis and roughness in leaves; mottling of the seed; and severe reductions in plant growth and seed quality. SMV not only causes severe yield losses of infected soybean plants but also increases their susceptibility to other pathogens. Moreover, SMV mottling makes seed unacceptable for many of the food-grade markets. The introduction and establishment of soybean aphids in North America in 2001 greatly increased the impact of SMV. Current genetic resistance was found to be very fragile and it can be easily overcome by SMV isolates. New durable genetic resistance is highly demanded to protect soybean production from possible catastrophic SMV outbreaks.

This project will develop novel genetic resistance to SMV. A soybean mutant population consisting of approximately 5,000 lines for screening for novel genetic resistance to SMV will be generated and available for soybean breeders to incorporate into their breeding programs for soybean improvement with desirable traits. Using mechanical inoculation as an infection assay, we will screen over 1,500 mutant lines and identify lines showing hypersensitive response (HR) and resistance to SMV. These lines will be maintained by self-pollination and the resulting progenies will be selected by the infection assay until resistance is stabilized. The resistant lines showing stable resistance will be transferred to soybean breeding programs in Canada and also studied to understand genetics and molecular mechanisms of resistance.