A technology tool recently patented by Pioneer will help the company save time in launching new soybean varieties with resistance to pests that rob yield potential and cause management headaches.

The marker-assisted selection (MAS) process patented by the company uses molecular markers to select soybean varieties with resistance to soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) and brown stem rot (BSR). The marker technology helps company researchers identify high-yielding SCN- and BSR-resistant varieties and bring them to market as much as two years faster than in the past.

Since 1996, every first-year experimental soybean variety has been tested using MAS. Pioneer screens more than 500,000 soybean plant samples annually. For 2001, four new SCN-resistant varieties and one new BSR-resistant variety have been launched using the technology. Company officials say the patented process will be key to the development of markers for other valuable traits in the future, including Phytophthora resistance in soybean varieties.