Lila Vodkin’s laboratory produced public genomic resources for soybean, including expressed sequence tags and soybean microarrays. These resources were used to study the simultaneous expression of thousands of genes during soybean seed development to determine the genes needed for protein and oil production, and to find genes that respond to challenge or infection by pathogens. These projects also led to extensive collaborations with nanotechnologists on campus to improve the sensitivity of detecting gene changes using microarrays in work funded recently by the National Institutes of Health.
The tools of state-of-the-art “Next Generation” sequencing have been used to discover the small RNAs present in soybean that are involved in regulating important pathways. The Vodkin laboratory demonstrated that small RNAs were the mechanism for controlling the pigment pathway in soybean seed development, resulting in the familiar yellow seed coat of soybeans grown on millions of acres.