Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in New Orleans, LA, have uncovered what could be a healthier soybean, by tricking the legume into churning out a new class of impressive, health-guarding compounds.

These phytochemicals, called glyceollins, aren't new to soybeans — it's just that they're absent from the soy-based foods currently on the market.

In 2001, ARS chemist Stephen Boué became interested in the elusive compounds when he and collaborators with the Tulane-Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research in New Orleans discovered that glyceollins could block the growth of hormone-dependent breast cancer cells in the laboratory.

Since his discovery four years ago, Boué and colleagues from ARS' Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC) have been searching for ways to coax soybeans into pumping out the promising chemicals.

The catch is, though soybean plants naturally produce the beneficial compounds, they only do so if confronted with serious stress, like when defending themselves against disease-causing microbes or fungi in the soil.

According to ARS research leader Ed Cleveland, today's soybeans are grown in relatively “clean” fields where farmers take many disease-avoidance measures. This means that soybean plants aren't forced to defend themselves against attack. As a result, they don't produce glyceollins and other possibly beneficial, disease-squelching compounds.

To mimic a microbial assault in the laboratory, Boué and Cleveland challenged just-germinated soybeans with the food-safe fungus Aspergillus sojae.

Because the young, sprouted soybeans perceive the fungus to be a threat, they produce copious amounts of the protective compounds — evident from the bright-red coloring the chemicals form as they react on the soybeans' wound surfaces.

Boué is sharing the isolated compounds with collaborating medical researchers and is currently searching for ways to induce glyceollin production on a large scale.

BOLL WEEVIL ERADICATION PREDICTED BY 2009

For the first time since it's inception in 1983, the Boll Weevil Eradication Program (BWEP) is eliminating the category “future expansion” from its update reports.

With the 2006 crop, the program includes all cotton acreage in the U.S., says Osama A. El-Lissy, director, USDA-APHIS invasive species and pest management. El-Lissy discussed the near elimination of one of the most devastating agricultural pests during the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio.

He predicts the weevil will be eradicated from U.S. cotton by 2009.

The 2006 BWEP update still includes three categories: completed and active, but future expansion has been replaced with post expansion.

El-Lissy says the 2005 report shows 41% of the U.S. cotton acreage in the completed category with 57% listed as active. The other 2% fell into future expansion. Those areas are active in 2006. Currently, 100% of the U.S. Cotton Belt is involved in boll weevil eradication, with more than 80% having completed eradication and the remaining 20% nearing eradication.

He said of the 12.9 million acres indicated as having completed eradication, 6.6 million have been formally declared eradicated and an additional 6.3 million acres considered weevil-free based on 2005 program data.

Much of the U.S. Cotton Belt now shifts to a maintenance program. “We'll continue a three-pronged approach including mapping, detection and control,” El-Lissy says.
Farm Press Daily

ENCAPSULATED SOYBEAN INOCULANT CREATED

Advanced Biological Marketing, makers of America's Best Inoculant (ABI), introduces Excalibre. The patented technology is different from other inoculants because it offers a two-year shelf life with an extended post-application planting window.

Excalibre offers a safe, easy-to-use way to increase crop yields by up to 4.4 bu./acre and contains a unique proprietary blend of three highly effective strains of bacteria that work effectively in variable soil and planting conditions.

Because of Excalibre's formulation, seed companies can inoculate soybean seeds 60 days in advance and have them available for when their customers need the product. The shelf life also gives farmers extra time to plant. It is believed that after additional testing on Excalibre is completed it will offer up to a 180-day planting window.