Skip to content

Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster, Activity 6: Breeding soybeans for adaptation to environment and emerging pests and concurrent development of molecular marker selection tools: Development of high yielding early maturity soybeans

Principal Investigator

Louise O’Donoughue

Research Institution

Centre de recherche sur les grains (CÉROM)

External Funding Partners

This project is part of the $10.3 million Canadian Field Crop Genetics Improvement Cluster funded by the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance (CFCRA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) through the Industry-Led Research and Development Stream of the Growing Forward 2 AgriInnovation Program. Grain Farmers of Ontario is a founding member of the CFCRA.

Project Start

April 2013

Project End

March 2018


  • Developing soybean cultivars mostly for animal feed adapted to areas of 2500 CHU or less through conventional and Marker Assisted Breeding.
  • Characterizing the genetic basis of maturity in the Eastern Canadian germplasm.
  • Developing the molecular markers selection tools to easily manipulate these genes in the breeding programs.
  • Evaluating a new genomic selection strategy for yield and early maturity.


  • The development of very-early soybean production to meet local needs and potential new markets and products.
  • The development of efficient and rapid breeding of higher yielding early maturity soybeans for Canada.
  • The development of short-season soybeans will allow diversification of cropping rotations in short-season environments and may lead to more environmentally sound management of the land and cropping systems.

Scientific Summary

In many areas of Canada, particularly in Eastern and Northern Québec, Northern Ontario, Manitoba and the Maritimes, the agro-environmental conditions are suitable for soybean production. However, the expansion of the crop to these areas has been hindered by the development of suitable very-early soybean cultivars. The selection for early maturity is currently achieved through phenotypic selection, and this must be done after the plants are mature. Advances in sequencing and genotyping technologies have allowed us to characterize the status of any given line at the known E (Earliness) genes and develop markers for the selection of these genes. Also, it has led to the recent development of a new marker assisted selection strategy, called genomic selection, which uses information from genome-wide marker coverage to tackle complex traits such as yield. Given the negative relationship between yield and maturity, we believe that such a strategy may hold promise for the breeding of vey early maturity soybeans.

The project aims at a rapid integration of new selection tools into practical breeding and consequently at more efficient breeding of very-early higher yielding soybean cultivars. The information generated on the status of maturity loci and the molecular marker tools developed through this project will be useful to breeders in all soybean growing regions of Canada. These tools will allow more targeted breeding for any given maturity region of Canada and a more rapid transfer of interesting characters from one maturity group to another. A better understanding of the genetic basis of maturity in soybean and the development of selection tools will also allow the breeders to respond more rapidly and efficiently to emerging issues such as new pests and abiotic stresses in the general context of climate change and help the breeders to produce resistant cultivars adapted to all existing and potential soybean growing regions of Canada.

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap