Public Release: 

BGI enters agreement with National Center for Soybean Biotechnology to re-sequence 1,008 soybean lines

Goal to enhance yield, stress tolerance and nutritional quality of soybeans cultivated in the US

BGI Shenzhen

Cambridge, MA, and Columbia, MO. January 17, 2012- BGI, the world's largest genomics organization, announced today that it has been selected by the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology at the University of Missouri to re-sequence 1,008 soybean germplasm lines, commencing with an initial contract in 2012 to re-sequence the first 100 lines drawn from the university's ongoing soybean research. Under the agreement, BGI will provide library construction, re-sequencing analysis, 5X soybean sequence genome coverage for each soybean line, and all related bioinformatics analysis.

The purpose of the re-sequencing project, "Better Soybean, Better Life," is to assist molecular breeding in order to enhance the productivity, biotic and abiotic stress tolerance, and nutritional quality of U.S.-grown soybeans by identifying genetic markers and understanding genetic variances and their associations with specific phenotypes or traits. Among the key traits of interest to researchers, for example, are the content and quality of the oil derived from soybean seed, drought and flooding tolerance, and soybean nematode resistance. The initial 100 soybean lines to be re-sequenced will include both new lines as well as lines that show desirable traits for which relevant genes can be targeted.

The soybean, often called the miracle crop, is the world's foremost provider of protein and oil. In 2010, soybeans represented 58 percent of world oilseed production, with 35 percent of those soybeans produced in the United States. The total 2010 U.S. crop value exceeded $38.9 billion. For the fifth consecutive year, U.S. whole soybean exports hit record levels of $23 billion in 2010, accounting for 44 percent of the world's soybean trade. Domestically, soybeans provided 68 percent of the edible consumption of fats and oils in the United States. The soybean plant was originally introduced into the U.S. from China and other Asian countries.

"The U.S. has long been the leading global producer of the highest quality soybeans," stated Henry T. Nguyen, Ph.D., Director, National Center for Soybean Biotechnology. "The goal of our research is to further enhance U.S. soybean productivity and seed composition for a variety of applications, which we believe will help sustain the U.S. soybean producers' leadership position in the world and boost the U.S. economy by increasing global exports and creating new jobs. We selected BGI to conduct the soybean re-sequencing and data analysis because of its next-generation sequencing expertise and the breadth of its experience with whole genome re-sequencing of various species, including the soybean genome. The total number of lines to be re-sequenced - 1,008 - was chosen because the numeral eight in Chinese denotes prosperity. It is our hope that this effort will lead to a large-scale network of public-private partnerships and institutions that can potentially extend this re-sequencing effort to 5,000-10,000 soybean lines. This will greatly enhance gene discovery and molecular breeding efforts in the soybean community."

Stated Huanming Yang, Ph.D., Chairman of BGI: "We are pleased to have been selected by the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology to re-sequence 1,008 soybean germplasm lines, and we look forward to contributing to a greater understanding of the soybean species with the goal of increasing productivity and quality of this important crop. Given the breadth of our re-sequencing capabilities and experience in sequencing whole genomes of the soybean and other important crops such as maize and rice, we are well-resourced to contribute to this goal. In addition to genomics, BGI's comprehensive solutions for plant and animal research include transcriptomics, epigenomics, and proteomics."

Next-generation sequencing (NGS) has revolutionized plant and animal research, allowing researchers to decode the whole genomes of many species. NGS also enables the detection of functional genes and markers of important traits to facilitate molecular breeding and improve agriculture production and conservation. BGI previously sequenced the soybean genome as part of the 1,000 Plant and Animal reference genome project launched in 2010 to generate reference genomes for 1,000 economically and scientifically important plant/animal species. Together with its collaborators, BGI has completed the genome sequencing and assembly for 95 species. A total of 540 species are either completed or in progress, including 152 plants and 388 animals. Recently, BGI and the University of California, Davis, entered a partnership to establish a state-of-the-art genome center in Sacramento, California to foster critical breakthroughs in the areas of food security and human, animal, and environmental health.

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About the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology

The overall goal of the National Center for Soybean Biotechnology (NCSB) is to integrate genomics and breeding research leading to the development of superior soybean cultivars for U.S. farmers to maintain their global competitiveness and expand utilization of the soybean crop. The Center will develop and utilize new technologies from a broad range of laboratory and field research studies. The Soybean Genomics and Biotechnology program will develop genomic maps and focus on seed quality, understanding the genetic control of yield, environmental stress tolerance, and pest resistance in soybean crops. A key goal of this group is the development of value-added soybeans with improved functionality (e.g., improved oil content, increased health benefits, modified proteins) for broader use in food, feed, biofuels, and industrial products. The Soybean Breeding program will utilize molecular biology (e.g., marker assisted selection (MAS)) and genomic technologies (e.g., transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome) to enhance the soybean germplasm base which will be useful for developing superior cultivars for soybean producers. Research is expected to maximize production efficiency, enhance nutritional values, and develop new industrial uses of soybean. Key points among these technologies are the development and refinement of the breeder's toolbox for soybean improvement. For more information, visit http://www.soybiotechcenter.org/.

About BGI

BGI was founded in 1999 with the mission of being a premier scientific partner to the global research community. The goal of BGI is to make leading-edge genomic science highly accessible through its investment in infrastructure that leverages the best available technology, economies of scale, and expert bioinformatics resources. BGI, and its affiliates, BGI Americas, headquartered in Cambridge, MA, and BGI Europe, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, have established partnerships and collaborations with leading academic and government research institutions as well as global biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, supporting a variety of disease, agricultural, environmental, and related applications.

BGI has established a proven track record of excellence, delivering results with high efficiency and accuracy for innovative, high-profile research which has generated over 170 publications in top-tier journals such as Nature and Science. These accomplishments include sequencing one percent of the human genome for the International Human Genome Project, contributing 10 percent to the International Human HapMap Project, carrying out research to combat SARS and German deadly E. coli, playing a key role in the Sino-British Chicken Genome Project, and completing the sequence of the rice genome, the silkworm genome, the first Asian diploid genome, the potato genome, and, most recently, have sequenced the human Gut metagenome, and a significant proportion of the genomes for 1,000 genomes. For more information about BGI please visit www.genomics.cn.

Contacts:

Henry T. Nguyen, Ph.D.
Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council Endowed Chair Professor
Director, National Center for Soybean Biotechnology
University of Missouri
573-882-5494
nguyenhenry@missouri.edu

Joyce Peng, Ph.D.
Marketing Director
BGI Americas Corporation
626-222-5584
joyce.peng@bgiamericas.com
www.bgiamericas.com

Bicheng Yang, Ph.D.
Public Communication Officer
BGI
+86-755-82639701
yangbicheng@genomics.cn
www.genomics.cn

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