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UW-Stevens Point gets $150,000 research grant to study the soybean genome


STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- UW-Stevens Point is receiving a $150,000 grant to study the genome of the soybean.

The three year grant will pay for new research into exactly how the genes of the soybean work. Associate Professor of Biology Devinder Sandhu says his work will help unravel what makes the plant tick. "Recently the soybean genome has been sequenced, that means we know every gene in the genomes, structurally what it's made of. But the next step is connecting these genes with functions."

The funding is coming from the United Soybean Board and will try to understand what parts of the genes will improve the bean's growth and production. Sandhu says the research will help producers create new strains of soybeans. "If we know that this is a gene which is going to make the soybean high-yielding, we can just use traditional methods and cross those genes into new cultivars. We can use this as such, we don't have to use genetic modification."

The funding at UWSP will pay for ten research student's work on the project. "We have grant money to support them during summer and Winterim, and some of the students will work after college, so they'll be able to work here right in the lab and they'll get paid for that." Sandhu says that link is vital because it's pushing the next generation of scientists. "It is creating this new generation of geneticists and biologists who will be going to graduate school, they'll be getting jobs, and that will affect our state and actually the whole country."

Work on the project will start March 1st and will be tied to projects at Iowa State University where the soybeans are being grown for testing.

(You can listen to the interview in our Newsmaker Podcasts by clicking THIS LINK.)