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Adaptation of Soybean to Low Phosphorus Soils of Tropical and Subtropical South China: A Radical Approach

Soybean is an essential source of protein, oil, and micronutrients in the Chinese diet. A primary limitation to soybean production in the weathered soils of South China is low soil phosphorus availability. This project addresses this constraint by developing improved soybean varieties with superior root traits which enable better adaptation to low P conditions and more efficient utilization of applied fertilizers. We are employing a systematic approach which includes:

1. Screening and selection of P-efficient soybean germplasm on low-P soils of South China;
2. Identification of important root traits which are useful for improving soybean's adaptation to low-P soils;
3. Establishment of genetic systems for gene mapping, cloning and transformation for superior root traits and P efficiency;
4. Agroecological assessment of P-efficient new varieties and their cropping systems;
5. Evaluation of the agroeconomic and social impacts of the project; and
6. Iinterdisciplinary training and management programs to ensure efficient execution of the project and enhance the capacity of SCAU to carry out independent agricultural research well into the future.

Our project builds on existing expertise in plant root biology, molecular biology, agroecology, and agroeconomics and the collaborative efforts of long-standing and newly established partnerships. This project will provide new insights into root biology, and the development of P efficient soybean germplasm would be a feasible and sustainable contribution to the food security of more than 700 million people in South China and billions more who live on weathered soils throughout the humid tropics.