Development of CRISPR/Cas-induced soybean mutants for breeding varieties with a shorter growing season
(contact: Prof. Elena POTOKINA,

Soybean acreage in the Russian Federation is expanding rapidly, with production volume increasing by 2.9 times over the past 20 years. Soybean protein is characterized by a high content of essential amino acids, the uniqueness of its amino acid composition allows to solve effectively the problem of shortage of both food and feed protein in the country.

Early flowering and early maturation have been and remain the most important target for breeding of this short-day legume crop in high latitudes. According to the Ministry of Agriculture of RF, the development of new photoperiod-insensitive varieties with a growing season of 80-95 days would increase the soybean sown area by another 20%.

To date, eight flowering time or maturity loci, designated E1 to E8 have been genetically identified in soybean. Of these, E1, E3, and E4 are involved in photoperiod responses and molecularly cloned. With advances in modern genome editing technologies and well-developed experimental workflow of the soybean transformation and regeneration in vitro, it is becoming possible to develop a collection of soybean genotypes with CRISPR-Cas-induced mutations in the E genes.

The objectives of this project include:

1. In collaboration with soybean breeding companies, identify promising varieties that need improvement.

2. Set up a transformation and regeneration protocol for selected soybean genotypes.

3. Design, implement, and deliver editing constructs targeting E genes into soybean tissue cultures.

4. Achieve successful obtaining of R1 transgenes followed by selfing and detection of non-GMO mutants.

5. To investigate the possible pleiotropic effect of the induced mutations on agronomical performance of edited soybean varieties under field conditions.

Required skills: Skills in molecular biology (PCR, Sanger sequencing, gene expression analysis) and genetic engineering (development of genetic constructs). In vitro plant manipulation experience is preferred. Acquaintance with the analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data will also be beneficial.

Deadline for application: April 15, 2024