The soybean aphid has plagued Midwestern fields for more than half a decade. To this point, farmers only had one way to control the insect – it had to be sprayed. Researchers at the University of Illinois have been working on the problem and, according to soybean breeder Brian Diers, have made quite a bit of progress.

The University of Illinois USDA collaborators mapped the genes, then used genetic markers to help move them around. Diers says these markers allowed Illinois plant breeders to quickly identify which crosses carried the aphid resistance gene. That’s right, growth out of aphid resistant beans has already started. It means farmers in Illinois and around the Midwest will soon have another tool to battle the soybean aphid.

The aphid resistant soybeans from the University of Illinois will be made available commercially and through the public sector. Some of the commercial releases will be RoundUp Ready. Interestingly, Diers says researchers do not know how the aphid resistant genes work. The researchers believe the genes cause a unique chemical reaction in the soybean plant, limiting the aphid’s ability to survive.