Diversity of fatty acid biosynthesis genes across the soybean pangenome

Mark C. Derbyshire, Jacob Marsh, Soodeh Tirnaz, Henry T. Nguyen, Jacqueline Batley, Philipp E. Bayer, David Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Soybean (Glycine max) is a major crop that contributes more than half of global oilseed production. Much research has been directed towards improvement of the fatty acid profile of soybean seeds through marker assisted breeding. Recently published soybean pangenomes, based on thousands of soybean lines, provide an opportunity to identify new alleles that may be involved in fatty acid biosynthesis. In this study, we identify fatty acid biosynthesis genes in soybean pangenomes based on sequence identity with known genes and examine their sequence diversity across diverse soybean collections. We find three possible instances of a gene missing in wild soybean, including FAD8 and FAD2-2D, which may be involved in oleic and linoleic acid desaturation, respectively, although we recommend follow-up research to verify the absence of these genes. More than half of the 53 fatty acid biosynthesis genes identified contained missense variants, including one linked with a previously identified QTL for oil quality. These variants were present in multiple studies based on either short read mappings or alignment of reference grade genomes. Missense variants were found in previously characterized genes including FAD2-1A and FAD2-1B, both of which are involved in desaturation of oleic acid, as well as uncharacterized candidate fatty acid biosynthesis genes. We find that the frequency of missense alleles in fatty acid biosynthesis genes has been reduced significantly more than the global average frequency of missense mutations during domestication, and missense variation in some genes is near absent in modern cultivars. This could be due to the selection for fatty acid profiles in seed, though future work should be conducted towards understanding the phenotypic impacts of these variants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20334
JournalPlant Genome
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


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