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Identification & integration of sudden death syndrome resistance genomic regions into Ontario-adapted food grade soybeans

Principal Investigator: Milad Eskandari

Research Institution: University of Guelph

Timeline: April 2021 – March 2024


  • The development of Ontario-adapted food-grade soybean commercial cultivars and germplasm in which the Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) resistant genes will be stacked with Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) resistant genes.
  • Identifying quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with the root and foliar resistance to SDS in Canadian food-grade soybean germplasm using linkage mapping, genome-wide association study and bulked segregant analyses.
  • Developing reliable molecular marker(s) desirable for marker-assisted selection (MAS).


  • The development of Ontario-adapted commercial soybean cultivars that are resistant to SDS and SCN will provide Ontario’s soybean growers with new tools to fight against the most yield-limiting pests of soybean in the region and increase their soybean production.
  • The enhancement of Canadian food-grade soybean germplasm through stacking SDS resistance genes with SCN resistance genes will provide Ontario-based soybean breeding programs with adapted SDS- and SCN-resistant sources, which can be used in cultivar development programs as these two diseases continue to spread across the province.
  • The development of defined marker-based selection tools for discriminating genotypes that are resistant to SDS will help the breeding programs at the University of Guelph, and other interested public and private soybean breeding programs across Ontario and Canada, to accelerate the development of SDS-resistant cultivars without the need for the laborious and time-consuming process of greenhouse bioassays.
  • Through this project, two graduate students will be trained and gain hands-on experience in the area of plant breeding and genetics.           

Scientific Summary:

Soybean Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) has been established in Southwestern Ontario as the 2nd most devastating pest, after Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN), and continues to spread across the province. The most effective countermeasure is using SDS-resistant cultivars to combat the disease and minimize its impact on yield; however, currently, there are no specific and sustained breeding efforts within Ontario food-grade breeding programs to develop disease-resistant cultivars based on innovative breeding approaches for continuous cultivar development for Ontario’s farmers. This lack of breeding activities can be due partly to limited information about the inheritance and mode of action of the resistance to SDS in Canadian soybean germplasm. Although there is no study on the genetic control of the resistance to SDS in Canadian soybean germplasm, several studies on exotic germplasm have shown that resistance is controlled by multiple genes. Mapping and isolating the genomic regions or quantitative trait loci (QTL) underlying the resistance is necessary for a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing the resistance, and for establishing efficient marker-assisted selection (MAS)-based breeding programs that will facilitate the development of resistant cultivars.

The proposed research and breeding project is built upon our intensive experience studying the genetic control of other diseases, including SCN, at the soybean breeding programs at the University of Guelph and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Harrow Research and Development Center. In this project, we propose to stack SDS resistance genes with SCN genes in Ontario-adapted food-grade soybeans through the introduction of new sources of SDS-resistance using elite cultivars from the US. This project also aims to develop reliable, robust, and stable genomics-based toolkits using a combination of linkage and association QTL analyses along with bulk segregate analyses (BSA) using different soybean populations.

External Funding Partners:

This project was funded by SeCan and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance.