The Directorate of Soybean Research (DSR) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is developing new genotypes that could potentially yield high oleic acid and high oil content in the crop.
Scientists at the DSR are hopeful of achieving up to 55 per cent oleic acid content in the new genotype. The IC210 soy genotype, which the DSR developed a few years ago and licensed it has 42 per cent oleic acid. The IC210 genotype has an yield potential of more than three tonne per hectare and a maturity period of 95-98 days.
The widely sown regular varieties in the soybean cultivation belt in the country, JS9560, JS 335 and JS 9305, currently possess 19-25 per cent oleic acid and yield an output of around two tonne per hectare, with the crop maturing in 100-105 days.
While the agri research bodies in the country had been predominantly developing such “specialty soybeans” following non-genetic (non-GM) methods, in the US, these are increasingly being achieved through genetical modification.
According to the DSR, high oleic acid soybeans up to 55-60 per cent oleic acid does not require partial hydrogenation, an industrial process employed during the processing of edible oils. Also, it could serve the interests of the FMCG industry in their efforts to produce packaged foods that are safe for dietary consumption.
Soybean oil, which is one of the major source of omega-3 fatty acid among the available cooking oils, it is being imported to the tune of approximately 1.9 mt. In this context, high oil lines in high yielding background being developed at DSR would be pivotal. Last year, India had imported 10 million tonnes (mt) of edible oils to meet the total 20 mt domestic requirement.
However, the ICAR expects the country’s growing health conscious middle-class would generate higher demand, and is directing its research to remove the undesirable and anti-nutritional factors from soybean to make them more acceptable.
The major deterrent in enhancing the utilisation of soybean for food purposes has been the presence of kunitz trypsin inhibitor (KTI) and off–flavour generating lipoxygenase. DSR scientists are currently “working towards removing both KTI and lipoxygenase in the same genotype”.
Though both the discouraging elements could be freed by heating, it is proved to be highly cost-ineffective and also affects the soy protein’s solubility characteristics.
As part of their efforts to include soybean in daily diet, DSR has developed vegetable soybean NRC 105, which Kumar said had similar characteristics of green pea and was also sweet. Similar genotypes, Karune and Swaranvasundhara, have been developed at All India Coordinated Research Project on Soybean Centre at Bangalore and Ranchi, respectively.