Soybean varieties with improved yield, pest resistance, protein and oil quality and quantity and other traits are among the benefits expected of a new project in which USDA's Agricultural Research Service scientists will create a “library” of 50,000 DNA markers called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

Geneticists David Hyten and Perry Cregan will “stock” the library as part of their ongoing studies with SNP DNA markers at ARS' Soybean Genomics and Improvement Research Unit in Beltsville, Md.

The United Soybean Board is funding the $2.9 million, three-year project from the organization's soybean checkoff program.

The library's completion will provide soybean researchers and breeders with a valuable resource to use in characterizing the genetic variation available for soybean improvement. For example, they'll be able to determine the position and characteristics of alleles, or alternate forms of genes, within the oilseed crop's 20 chromosomes.