Title: “ Genomics-enabled Soybean Improvement”




Dr Zenglu Li



Center for Applied Genetic Technologies,
Department of Crop and Soil Sci.
University of Georgia USA


With the advent of next-gen sequencing and DNA marker technologies, genomics has become one of the most transformative influences on crop improvement. It greatly helps improve the breeding selection efficiency and accelerate the breeding cycles. Soybean nematodes including soybean cyst nematode (SCN) and root-knot nematode (RKN) are one of the most destructive pests in soybean production in the world. These nematodes are able to live in the soil for years and cause a significant loss of soybean yield. Development and deployment of nematode resistance soybean cultivars is the most effective way to controlling nematodes in soybean production. However, phenotyping for nematode resistance is labor intensive and time consuming and could delay the breeding process. In this presentation, both SCN and RKN will be used as examples to elaborate how the genomic tools are used to discover the genes for the nematode resistance and develop functional DNA markers for marker-assisted selection. It will also be discussed how the genomic technologies could be integrated into soybean breeding workflow in a practical breeding program to aid soybean genetic improvement.

Zenglu Li received his BS degree in Agronomy and MS degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics in China. He obtained his Ph. D. degree in Plant Breeding and Genetics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received his postdoctoral training from the University of Georgia. 

He worked as Research Scientist and Marker Lab Manager on marker/QTL discovery and molecular breeding for six years at Pioneer Hi-Bred. Subsequent to his career at Pioneer, he was Corn Genotype Lab Lead and then Soybean Discovery Breeding Lead at Monsanto Company with a focus of utilization of genomic technologies to support global trait integration and breeding efforts, and germplasm discovery and enhancement.  He joined the faculty at UGA in April, 2012. His research interests are focused on development of soybean varieties using an integrated conventional and molecular breeding approach; marker/QTL discovery for the traits of interest; genome-wide association and genomic selection for yield.

He won two Above & Beyond awards and one Research Innovation Award from Monsanto and is an associate editor of Molecular Breeding, Crop Science, and BMC Genomics. He has published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals and is a co-inventor of four patents.