New DuPont Molecular Markers Increase Soybean Productivity

DES MOINES, Iowa, June 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred today announced that it has identified and incorporated new proprietary molecular markers into its soybean research program. The new markers significantly enhance the company's ability to bring to market soybeans resistant to three common destructive soybean pests -- Asian Soybean Rust, soybean aphids and frogeye leaf spot.

"These molecular markers will help us boost soybean yields by 40 percent within the next 10 years," said William S. Niebur, vice president, DuPont Crop Genetics Research and Development. "These markers are part of our industry leading Accelerated Yield Technology (AYT) that harnesses the power of our germplasm collection, strong bioassays, computing power and molecular breeding tools to drive genetic gain at unprecedented rates."

If left untreated, Asian Soybean Rust, soybean aphids and frogeye leaf spot can cause significant damage and yield loss to soybeans:

-- Asian Soybean Rust -- Without fungicide applications, Asian soybean rust has the potential to eliminate soybean yield. Pioneer plans to commercialize soybean varieties carrying multiple sources of Asian Soybean Rust resistance by 2012 in Brazil and by 2013 in the United States. Asian Soybean Rust must currently be controlled with fungicide; the new Asian Soybean Rust resistant varieties will add another tool that farmers can use to combat Asian Soybean Rust. In addition, Pioneer is also pursuing transgenic modes of resistance.

-- Frogeye Leaf Spot -- If left untreated, frogeye leaf spot can cause up to a 15 percent yield loss. Pioneer plans to commercialize soybean varieties with frogeye leaf spot resistance by 2011 in North America. The new resistant varieties will be another option in addition to fungicides to combat this disease.

-- Soybean Aphids -- Soybean aphids can cause up to 100 percent soybean yield loss if left untreated. Pioneer plans to commercialize soybean varieties with soybean aphid resistance by 2011. The new resistant varieties will reduce or eliminate the need for soybean aphid insecticide application.

"The addition of these novel markers to our soybean product development approach will build and extend our number one brand position in soybeans," Niebur said.

Pioneer soybean breeders are using these new technologies to bring better products to its customers as quickly as possible. The markers are non-transgenic and are not subject to additional regulatory approvals. Pioneer is seeking patent protection on resulting improved soybean varieties, as well as the tools and techniques used to develop them.

Molecular markers act as genetic road signs, indicating where scientists should look on a segment of DNA for genes related to a specific trait. Once molecular markers are identified, researchers can use DNA analysis early in product development to screen for the presence of these specific traits. This ability to screen complements extensive trait-specific field testing, for complex traits, driving greater success in research programs.

Pioneer has led the way in developing proprietary marker-assisted selection processes, most notably to introduce key defensive traits to protect soybean yield from harmful pests such as soybean cyst nematode, Phytophthora root rot, and brown stem rot.

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, is the world's leading source of customized solutions for farmers, livestock producers and grain and oilseed processors. With headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa, Pioneer provides access to advanced plant genetics in nearly 70 countries.

DuPont (NYSE: DD) is a science-based products and services company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere. Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture and food; building and construction; communications; and transportation.