"Environment" research area

Using Fungi to Protect Soybean Crop from Nematodes

Primary Investigator - Christine SalomonPrimary InvestigatorChristine Salomon
Co-InvestigatorsSophia Powells and Elaine Kappel
Industry PartnersNA
Award Type: Seed Grant - Undergraduate Research Scholar

Problem: Soybean cyst nematode (SCN, Heterodera glycines) is a pathogen that causes crop losses of over 30% for soybean farmers globally. Although some control measures have shown success in preventing the disease, there is no treatment for SCN once a field has been infected.

Solution: Some species of fungi produce linoleic acid, which is toxic to nematodes. The Salomon Lab plans to develop a treatment for SCN using these linoleic acid-producing fungi. The Lab will test various species to determine which is most effective in inhibiting the nematodes. The initial experiments were focused on developing methods to efficiently quantify the amount of linoleic acid and several structurally related fatty acids from crude extracts obtained for each environmental fungal isolate.   Pure fatty acids were chemically modified so that they could more easily be detected and quantified.  Once this method was optimized with the pure compounds, the crude fungal extracts were subjected to the same derivatizations and analyzed to detect and measure any naturally occurring fatty acids.  The strains with the highest levels of inhibitory fatty acids will be used for additional testing with soybean cyst nematodes and nematode eggs.  

Impact: Minnesota produces more soybeans than any other state in the U.S. Developing a treatment for SCN could prevent financial losses for farmers in our state who grow the crop for food and energy.