Main Goal

We aim to develop and integrate into the breeding programs, the genomic tools and information databases that will allow the efficient and rapid development of early maturity high yielding soybean varieties adapted to the various agro-environmental conditions of Canada.


The expansion of the soybean crop to new areas is hindered by the slow development of suitable very early soybean varieties. This has been due in large part to the difficulty in breeding high yielding short season varieties. To expedite this process, we need DNA markers to precisely determine which alleles of the different genes that control maturity (known as earliness or E genes) are present in any given soybean line. We also need to have a better understanding of the combinations of these alleles/genes that yield best under the different agro-environmental conditions to maximize adaptation and yield.


The following sub-objectives will be instrumental to reach the main goal:

Objective 2.1 Allelic diversity and phenotypic effect of known earliness genes

The soybean breeders involved in this activity have been active and successful at developing early maturing varieties for Canada. However, further development would be greatly enhanced by a better understanding of the genetic basis of early maturity (and its relationship to yield) in breeding material.

Objective 2.2 Identification of novel genes controlling maturity

It is known that at least 10 genes contribute to maturity in soybean. As only 4 of these have been identified and cloned, we propose to identify additional maturity genes for which useful alleles are likely present in our collection of early accessions.

Objective 2.3 Development of early varieties through Marker-Assisted Selection

One of the main goals of this research proposal is to develop early adapted high-yielding soybean varieties suitable to for the various agro-environmental areas of Canada. The three breeders involved in this activity will therefore pursue their early maturing breeding programs while integrating the tools developed in activity 1, 2.1, 2.2, 2,4 and 4 as they become available.

Act.2.4 Genomic selection tools to breed for increased yield Genomic selection will be explored as an alternative to MAS to help breeders achieve two important goals: 1) select the lines with the best package of agronomic traits (with an emphasis on yield and maturity) within the progeny of a cross; 2) identify the parental lines that will produce the offspring with the best performance.


2.1) Identification of maturity optimal gene/allele combinations for the various Canadian regions

2.2) Identification of additional maturity genes relevant to Canadian germplasm

2.3.1) Markers for selection of early maturity genes integrated into the breeding programs

2.3.2) Advanced lines and eventually high yielding early maturity varieties available for Canada

2.4) Genomic selection model is optimized and validated