Why do soybean plants need help dealing with abiotic stresses?

When a plant deals with stress, such as that brought on by extremes in water availability and extremes in soil or air temperature, it naturally re-directs its energy from growth and reproduction to maintenance and survival. As a consequence, seed yield is often compromised.

For soybean to cope with common abiotic stresses and maintain good yield, it must continue to balance the (sometimes competing) need to:

  • develop a healthy root system and plant canopy
  • regulate photosynthesis and transpiration
  • continue vigorous vegetative and reproductive development

Our soybean research programme includes a multi-year project focused on improved understanding of the plant’s response to environmental stress, particularly at sensitive growth stages such as flowering and pod development. If we learn more about how a plant fundamentally balances development and survival when facing abiotic stress, we can better develop crop enhancement product solutions which help soybean plants cope with this stress. This will help them to preserve yield potential in stressful environments of North and South America.