A University of Arkansas entomology professor has secured a $449,936 grant to explore methods of increasing the defense response of soybeans to nematodes and other pathogens.
Fiona Goggin, a professor of entomology with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, has received the grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Goggin will be working on the project with co-investigators John Rupe and Alejandro Rojas.
As part of the project, Goggin is working to develop ways of boosting soybeans’ defense responses against nematodes, which are non-segmented worms that play numerous roles in soil health but can harm soil and crops.
According to Goggin, soybean growers around the United States lose billions every year as a result of nematodes and other soilborne pathogens.
“Chemical controls for soilborne pathogens are becoming increasingly limited due to concerns about their environmental impacts and worker safety,” Goggin said in a statement. “Therefore, there is a pressing need to develop alternative techniques for the management of nematodes and other root diseases.”
During the research phase, Goggin will be investigating the impact of plant elicitor peptides (PEPs) on root-knot nematodes. “Research has shown that when the levels of propeptides increase, plants become more resistant to diseases,” she said.