FRONT PAGES: Soybean Compounds May Improve Animal Health

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

Newswise — The antimicrobial compounds soybean plants produce in response to diseases, insects, and drought can help animals remain healthy and reduce the need for antibiotics.

“When soybeans are attacked by pathogens, they produce phytochemicals called “glyceollins” as a defense mechanism,” said assistant professor Bishnu Karaki from South Dakota State University’s Department of Biology and Microbiology. Her research team has discovered pathogens that can trigger the production of glyceollins in soybeans. They have also begun to evaluate which varieties of soybeans produce more of these antimicrobial compounds.

“Animals such as poultry and pigs already eat high amounts of soybeans. They could also benefit from the phytochemicals’ antimicrobial properties.” Karki stated, noting that scientists are currently studying the effects of glyceollins in human health, particularly in relation to inflammation, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

Karki receives funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Hatch Act through the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station. The project has been completed by two master’s and many undergraduates.

In the past, antibiotics were added to animal feed and water in order to ensure animals remained healthy and maintained a market weight. However, the FDA’s Veterinary Feed Directive, which seeks to decrease the development of antibiotic-resistance microorganisms, recently limited the use of antibiotics to specific health problems. Glyceollin-enriched soybeans are an alternative to antibiotics that could provide similar benefits for livestock producers.

Producing glyceollins

Under normal conditions, glyceollins are not present in soybeans, Karki said When soybeans are threatened by environmental stressors, such as a fungal infection, the plant responds by making glyceollins to defend itself.

Karki worked with Mark Berhow, a research chemist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, Illinois to find ways to increase soybean glyceollin production. The goal was to produce at most three milligrams of Glyceollins per Gram of Soybeans, which is the minimum amount required for antimicrobial use in swine food.

Researchers found that sprouted soybeans with fungi were more effective than those inoculated in the hull. To determine the glyceollin levels, the soybeans are frozen-dried and ground. The results were published in the Mycological progress journal. They showed that the soybeans can produce 3. 763 mg glyceollins per kilogram of soybeans.

In a second study, researchers evaluated more than a dozen varieties of soybeans. They inoculated them with two types of edible mushrooms and left them to incubate for up 120hours. The Aspergillus Sojae fungus produced a higher level of glyceollins, with levels that soared from 96 up to 120 after incubation.

In addition to this, Karki stated that “the soybean variety makes the difference.” While a variety’s susceptibility was not enough to increase production, early maturing varieties tend to produce more glyceollins. Additionally, exposure to ultraviolet light prior to fungal inoculation increased those results. The next step is to test more varieties from different states in order to identify the ones with greater potential to produce glyceollins. Breeders will then be able to study the genetic pathways that lead to this.

Going to the next level

“We have a lab-scale process, but we need to scale it up to show its feasibility,” Karki said, noting that testing to make sure the process was repeatable involved up to 100 beans. This technology will be scaled up by the new POET Bioproducts Institute at SDSU. This facility should be complete by summer 2023.

” The use of naturally occurring compounds to replace antibiotics in animal production could be a game changer. The POET Bioproducts institute allows researchers to collaborate with industry partners in order to bring this promising bioprocessing technology to the market,” stated Distinguished Professor Bill Gibbons, associate professor for research at the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and the director of South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.

“Glyceollin production is more efficient when soybeans have been dehulled. However, we must keep the endosperm intact in order for seeds to germinate.” she said. “Commercial dehulling equipment can crack the soybeans, so we need to custom design a machine that can remove the hulls without disrupting the endosperm.”

Furthermore, understanding the metabolic pathways through which soybeans divert energy to producing glyceollins will help scientists manipulate those pathways to increase production of the antimicrobial compound.

“Soybeans is one of the most important commodities in the animal nutrition and human nutrition markets,” Karki stated. Soybeans rich in glyceollins may have the potential to improve human health.

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