Midwest farmers could soon have high-yielding commercial varieties with effective resistance to soybean aphids as the result of a major breakthrough at the University of Illinois (U of I).

After nearly three years of effort, a team of researchers at U of I has identified a single-gene source of aphid resistance.

“Growers could have resistant varieties fairly quickly, especially if industry adopts this technology,” says lead scientist Glen Hartman, plant pathologist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service at the U of I. “I think three to four years would be a reasonable time frame for that to happen.”

The methods for breeding plants with the aphid resistance gene will be licensed for use in both public and private breeding programs.

In 2003, at a cost of $20-25/acre, Hartman says more than 1 million acres were sprayed for aphids in Illinois and more than 3 million acres in both Iowa and Minnesota.

Other researchers on the project were Curtis Hill and soybean breeder Brian Diers from U of I's Department of Crops Sciences. Funding was provided by the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board.

Additional details on this technology are available on the Internet at www.otm.uiuc.edu/techs/techdetail.asp?id=267.