Soybean farmers may soon have more protection against Phytophthora root rot, the second leading cause of soybean yield loss in the U.S.

Through research funded by the Ohio Soybean Council and the soybean checkoff, scientists from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) discovered a new soybean gene, Rps8, which offers resistance to Phytophthora root rot. Phytophthora is a pathogen that can infect soybean plants at all stages of growth, causing seed and seedling decay, root rot and stem rot. In early testing of the Rps8 gene, results have been positive.

The gene was tested in 50 Ohio locations and throughout the Midwest during the 2003 growing season. Rps8 has protected soybeans from Phytophthora where as other genes have been lacking resistance.

Scientists are now trying to locate markers linked to the gene to help breeders incorporate this source of resistance into new soybean varieties.