Researchers at Iowa State University are trying a unique strategy to control soybean mosaic virus. They're injecting a portion of the pathogen, in this case soybean mosaic virus, into the plant through genetic engineering. The process is called pathogen-derived resistance.

Successful in many plants, it's an unusual success for soybeans, says John Hill, Iowa State plant pathologist. “It's the first successful genetically engineered disease resistance in soybeans.”

The transgenic plants were field-tested for two years at Iowa State research farms. Results indicate that the strategy reduced the damage caused by soybean mosaic virus. Hill says the transgenic lines slow disease incidence until the plant is more developed.

Soybean mosaic virus is transmitted by 30 different species of aphids including the newly introduced soybean aphid. It can reduce yields 8-35%, depending on the cultivar planted and when the virus infects the plant.

For more information on the virus, visit: www.planthealth.info.