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Soybean pest genome sequenced

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Soybean cyst nematode and egg.

By Julie Bierach, KWMU

SAINT LOUIS, MO – Researchers at Monsanto and genomics research company, Divergence have announced the sequencing of the genome of a devastating soybean parasite.

The soybean cyst nematode causes about a billion dollars of yield loss a year and is considered the most economically significant pest for soybean production in the U.S.

Clair Cajacob, director of agronomic traits at Monsanto, says by having the sequence, scientists will be able to identify the genes that are involved in the interaction between the worm and the plant.

"It finds soybean roots as they start to grow and then it actually physically gets into those roots and starts feeding off the nutrients that the plant is producing for its own development," said Cajacob. "So it kind of acts like a parasite in that way in using the plant's nutrients for itself."

Monsanto will now look for strategies to prevent the parasite from infecting the soybean plant.

The genome sequence is available for the public through the National Center for Biotechnology Information website.

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