Maintaining Our Yield

How do biotic and abiotic factors affect populations?
Create experiments to test how abiotic factors impact soybean germination, go into the field and laboratory to determine the impact of aphid populations on soybeans, and experiment with aphid resistant genes (Rag genes) to determine their effectiveness against soybean aphids.

Lessons

Teacher background

Losses to farmers from insects and plant disease can amount to millions of dollars each year. Growers are continuously looking to new methods to help reduce the impact of pests on crops. Population ecology concepts can be used to study growth of pest populations and the effects of limiting factors on pest populations.

Soybean aphids, an economically important pest in the United States, pierce soybean tissues and feed on the sap, causing average yield losses of 20-30%, and up to 70% if left untreated. Soybean Rag (Resistance to Aphis glycines) genes can be an answer. These genes are naturally occurring in soybeans and help the crop to resist soybean aphids. Soybean researchers are attempting to breed soybeans to stack multiple Rag genes to produce resistant varieties that will lower the use of pesticide treatments and protect yields. Aphids and Rag gene soybean seeds are available for use in education from the following resources: see Contacts for Seed and Aphids.pdf

Curriculum author

Heather Bryan

Former Environmental Science Teacher and Education Consultant at Education Projects & Partnerships at Education Projects & Partnerships.

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