Predicted genetic gains from introgressing chromosome segments from exotic germplasm into an elite soybean cultivar

  • Sushan RuEmail author
  • Rex Bernardo
Original Article


Key message

To improve an elite soybean line, introgress longer chromosome segments instead of QTL alleles from exotic germplasm.


Broadening the diversity of cultivated soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merrill] through introgression of exotic germplasm has been difficult. Our objectives were to (1) determine if introgressing specific chromosome segments (instead of quantitative trait locus alleles) from exotic soybean germplasm has potential for improving an elite cultivar, and (2) identify strategies to introgress and pyramid exotic chromosome segments into an elite cultivar. We estimated genomewide marker effects for yield and other traits in seven crosses between the elite line IA3023 and seven soybean plant introductions (PIs). We then predicted genetic gains from having ≤ 2 targeted recombinations per linkage group. When introgression was modeled for yield while controlling maturity in the seven PI × IA3023 populations, the predicted yield was 8–25% over the yield of IA3023. Correlated changes in maturity, seed traits, lodging, and plant height were generally small but were in the favorable direction. In contrast, selecting the best recombinant inbred (without targeted recombination) in each of the PI × IA3023 populations led to negative or minimal yield gains over IA3023. In one PI × IA3023 population, introgressing and pyramiding only two linkage groups from recombinant inbreds into IA3023 was predicted to achieve an 8% yield gain over IA3023 without sacrificing the performance for other traits. The probability of inheriting intact chromosomes was high enough to allow introgression and pyramiding of chromosome segments in 5–6 generations. Overall, our study suggested that introgressing specific chromosome segments is an effective way to introduce exotic soybean germplasm into an elite cultivar.



We thank Dr. Brian Diers and the soybean NAM community for conducting the NAM experiment and making the data publicly available, and Dr. Aaron Lorenz for engaging us in helpful discussions about soybean breeding.

Author Contribution statement

SR found the needed data sets, analyzed the data, interpreted the results, and drafted the manuscript. RB conceived and supervised the study, helped interpret the results, and edited the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

122_2019_3490_MOESM1_ESM.docx (67 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 67 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Agronomy and Plant GeneticsUniversity of MinnesotaSaint PaulUSA

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