Chinese scientists announced Thursday they have bred the world's first hybrid soybean with more than two decades of unremitting efforts.
The hybrid passed its certification by crop breeding authorities in northeast China's Jilin province Wednesday.
Research leader Sun Huan, a world-renowned soybean geneticist from the provincial agricultural academy, said his team had worked on their own and claimed full intellectual property rights.
Sun's team, which began its research 20 years ago, acquired in 1993 the technology to develop a cytoplasmic-nuclear male sterile line, which passed appraisal by Chinese and American experts the same year and was cited as a major breakthrough in soybean hybridizing technology.
China Breeds World's First Hybrid Soybean
Scientists worldwide had been seeking a way to breed hybrid soybeans, Sun said, but they could not make a breakthrough because of difficulty involved in changing the plant's trait of self-pollination.
Using the leaf-cutting bee as a pollinator, the proportion of seeds setting on the new hybrid can reach more than 70 percent. Repeated experiments showed that a hectare of this hybrid can yield 1,000 kilograms of soybean, 20 percent more than usual breeds commonly grown by local farmers.
The soybean is regarded as the crop of the 21st century worldwide because of its high protein content. Most countries have been trying hard to raise soybean yields, but worldwide the yield increases only 0.5 percent every year.
China, traditionally home to soybean crops, has cultivated the plant for a history of more than 5,000 years. Nevertheless, the United States has taken China's place as the world's biggest soybean producer.