Ozone-tolerant soybeans

If ozone levels in the atmosphere continue to increase, what will happen to soybean performance? Researchers now know that some soybean varieties will tolerate high ozone levels better than others.

University of Illinois researchers are working with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service to test the effects of increased ozone levels on different varieties of soybeans. The research is simulating the higher concentration of ozone that could be a reality for the Earth's atmosphere in the year 2050. The scientists say ozone levels in industrial countries in the Northern Hemisphere are rising at a rate of 1 to 2% a year, and the trend is expected to continue.

The current research exposes growing soybeans to an ozone level approximately 20% higher than the level found in today's field conditions. The increased ozone levels result in a significant decrease in soybean yield, but not for all soybean varieties. The scientists say the most sensitive varieties yielded more than 30% less under the elevated ozone concentration, compared to normal conditions. The average yield reduction of the 22 varieties tested was 19%. However, a few varieties were quite tolerant of the elevated ozone, with yield reductions of approximately 5%.

Researchers tested current soybean varieties as well as varieties grown in Illinois more than 50 years ago. Ozone-sensitive and ozone-tolerant varieties were found within both groups.

Results of these research projects will allow scientists to more extensively evaluate the ozone tolerance of varieties with the goal of identifying more highly tolerant germplasm for developing future varieties.

Learn more by visiting www.soyface.uiuc.edu.

Poncho for Pioneer

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