Soybean seed protein and oil contents and fatty acid composition adjustments by drought and temperature
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Environmental stress during soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] seed fill can alter the chemical composition of the seed and reduce yield, viability, and vigor. The effect of drought and high air temperature (AT) on soybean seed protein and oil contents have not been reported. The objective of this study was to characterize the protein and oil contents and fatty acid composition of soybean seeds after exposure to drought and high AT during seed fill. Experiments were conducted during two years, in which three drought-stress levels were maintained throughout seed fill. In Experiment I, “Gnome” soybeans were grown at daytime AT of 20 and 26°C, and in Experiment II “Hodgson 78” were grown at 27, 29, 33, and 35°C. Across experiments, severe drought increased protein content by 4.4 percentage points, while oil content decreased by 2.9 percentage points. As drought stress increased, measured by accumulating stress degree days, protein content increased linearly and oil content decreased linearly at each AT. Seeds from plants exposed to 35°C during seed fill contained 4.0 percentage points more protein and 2.6 percentage points less oil than those exposed to 29°C when averaged across drought stress levels. Drought had little effect on the fatty acid composition of the oil, but high AT reduced the proportion of the polyunsaturated components.
Key wordsChemical composition, environmental stress, heat and drought stress, oil quality, seed utilization
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