Prolina, a high-protein soybean from USDA-ARS, could make soy infant formula more like mothers' milk.

Bred by plant geneticist Joe Burton at the ARS Soybean and Nitrogen Fixation Laboratory in Raleigh, NC, the variety has unusually high concentrations of certain amino acids.

Cystine, an amino acid that occurs naturally in human breast milk, is several times higher in Prolina than in other soybean varieties. Scientists believe high cystine levels promote brain and eye development.

Proteins in the new soybean also have enhanced functional properties.

"It's easier to process these beans into a gel form for a fat-free whipping cream made from soy - or to blend them into a liquid emulsion like infant formula," says ARS chemist Prachuab Kwanyuen.

Kwanyuen has also been working with food scientists at North Carolina State University to develop other products, like high-protein soyburgers, based on Prolina's properties.