A decade-long effort by University of Arizona scientists Monica Schmidt and Eliot Herman and University of Illinois scientist Theodore Hymowitz has yielded a new soybean with significantly reduced levels of three key proteins responsible for both its allergenic and anti-nutritional effects. The work is described in a paper published online in the journal Plant Breeding.
“We have created a low-allergen and low anti-nutritional inhibitor soybean using conventional breeding methods,” said Herman, a professor in the UA School of Plant Sciences, which is part of the UA’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Soybeans contain several allergenic and anti-nutritional proteins that affect soybean use as food and animal feed.
Herman, Schmidt and Hymowitz screened 16,000 different varieties of soybean for the desired non-allergen trait, and found one that almost completely lacked the allergen P34.
The team stacked the P34 null with two varieties previously identified by Hymowitz that lacked soybean agglutinin and trypsin inhibitors, proteins that are responsible for the soybean’s anti-nutritional effects in livestock and humans.
After nearly a decade of crossbreeding each variety to the soybean reference genome called Williams 82, the team has produced a soybean that lacks most of the P34 and trypsin inhibitor protein, and completely lacks soybean agglutinin. Beyond these characteristics, the soybean is nearly identical to Williams 82. They’ve dubbed the new variety “Triple Null.”
Triple Null also has applications for livestock and agriculture with soybean being the primary global input of vegetable protein for animal feed. It can also be grown organically.