University of Illinois researchers identified the top pathogens, pests and weeds affecting soybean production in a recent article in Food Security.

Soybean aphid, soybean rust, soybean cyst nematode, Sclerotina stem rot and the exotic pathogen, red leaf blotch, were featured as some of the top biotic constraints that may affect soybean production now and in the future.

“Enormous potential exists to increase future soybean production,” said Glen Hartman, U of I professor of crop sciences and USDA-ARS research scientist.

“Genetic resources, used through both traditional breeding and bioengineering, may provide the solutions needed to combat current and future disease problems.”

As soybean production has increased over the past 50 years, so has the intensity of biotic constraints that ultimately threaten yield.

“Where soybeans are grown every year or even every other year, pathogens often have increased in density to cause economic losses in yield,” Hartman said.

“Parasitic microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, nematodes, Oomycetes, and viruses all contribute to economic damage. A similar story occurs for pests; many, such as aphids, beetles, mites, and stinkbugs, cause considerable economic damage to the soybean crop.”

Although aphids, rust, nematode and Sclerotina stem rot are commonly known and recognized by soybean growers, less information is known on red leaf blotch, an exotic disease caused by the fungal pathogen Phoma glycinicola, he said.

“The fungus that causes red leaf blotch is listed on the USDA Agricultural Select Agent List — the same list as anthrax,” Hartman said.