2017 Faculty Update: Senyu Chen
Dr. Senyu Chen’s Nematology Program at the Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca continues to study soybean cyst nematode (SCN) biology and management. SCN resistance in soybean continues to be a major research focus in his program. SCN populations have changed to types that can overcome the resistance in current commercial cultivars. In collaborating with soybean breeders at the University of Minnesota, Chen’s team is studying new sources of SCN resistance in USDA germplasm lines and the use of selected novel SCN resistance in breeding elite soybean cultivars. Chen’s research on SCN also has expanded to include studies with other host plants, including dry (common) bean and pennycress. SCN was first found in commercial dry bean fields in Minnesota in 2016. This plant species is a good host for SCN and severe nematode damage has been observed in several dry bean fields. A new research project was initiated this year with funding support from Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) to study the SCN resistance in dry bean germplasm and to survey the extent and severity of SCN damage in dry bean fields in the state. Pennycress and camelina are potential winter oil cover crops. Pennycress is a moderate host of SCN, while camelina is a non-host. Several grants from Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSRPC) and MDA are funding studies on SCN impact on pennycress and camelina as winter cover crops and the evaluation of SCN resistance in pennycress germplasm lines. These are collaborative projects with several University of Minnesota scientists, including Cody Hoerning, a graduate student in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, and colleagues in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. As part of a collaborative USDA NIFA project with Dr. Kathryn Bushley, Chen is investigating the soil microbial communities in field plots. The plots were established 35 years ago under an initiative to determine effect of long-term corn-soybean rotation on crop yields. Two graduate students (Deepak Rajendran and Noah Strom) and a postdoctoral research associate
(Weiming Hu) are working on different aspects of this project. Their overall focus is on fungal communities associated with SCN at different life stages and identification of potential biological control agents. Currently, four technicians (Cathy Johnson, Wayne Gottschalk, Hannah Neigebauer, and Yen Vuong) support the work in the Waseca Nematology Lab (Figure 2). Dr. Yanfei Xia, a visiting assistant professor from Henan University of Science and Technology, China, is working on biocontrol of the SCN using bacteria from the SCN cysts. Dr. Weiqing Zhou, a postdoctoral research associate from Dr. Gregory Sword’s lab in the Texas A&M University is visiting the Nematology Lab for one week in June to learn the methodology for SCN culture and for conducting nematode biocontrol experiments.