Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Plant Sci., 27 August 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00196

Environmental effects on allergen levels in commercially grown non-genetically modified soybeans: assessing variation across North America

Severin E. Stevenson1, Carlotta A. Woods1, Bonnie Hong2, Xiaoxiao Kong2, Jay J. Thelen1 and Gregory S. Ladics3*
  • 1 Interdisciplinary Plant Group, Department of Biochemistry, Christopher S. Bond Life Science Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA
  • 2 Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Ankeny, IA, USA
  • 3 DuPont Agricultural Biotechnology, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Wilmington, DE, USA

Soybean (Glycine max) is a hugely valuable soft commodity that generates tens of billions of dollars annually. This value is due in part to the balanced composition of the seed which is roughly 1:2:2 oil, starch, and protein by weight. In turn, the seeds have many uses with various derivatives appearing broadly in processed food products. As is true with many edible seeds, soybeans contain proteins that are anti-nutritional factors and allergens. Soybean, along with milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and wheat, elicit a majority of food allergy reactions in the United States. Soybean seed composition can be affected by breeding, and environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, moisture, insect/pathogen load, and/or soil nutrient levels). The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of genotype and environment on allergen and anti-nutritional proteins in soybean. To address genetic and environmental effects, four varieties of non-GM soybeans were grown in six geographically distinct regions of North America (Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Ontario, and Pennsylvania). Absolute quantification of proteins by mass spectrometry can be achieved with a technique called multiple reaction monitoring (MRM), during which signals from an endogenous protein are compared to those from a synthetic heavy-labeled internal standard. Using MRM, eight allergens were absolutely quantified for each variety in each environment. Statistical analyses show that for most allergens, the effects of environment far outweigh the differences between varieties brought about by breeding.

Keywords: soybean, GMO, allergens, MRM, LC-MS/MS, glycinin

Citation: Stevenson SE, Woods CA, Hong B, Kong X, Thelen JJ and Ladics GS (2012) Environmental effects on allergen levels in commercially grown non-genetically modified soybeans: assessing variation across North America. Front. Plant Sci. 3:196. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00196

Received: 28 March 2012; Accepted: 08 August 2012;
Published online: 27 August 2012.

Edited by:

Paul Andrew Haynes, Macquarie University, Australia

Reviewed by:

Bronwyn Jane Barkla, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
Benjamin Schwessinger, University of California Davis, USA
Roque Bru-Martinez, Universidad de Alicante, Spain

Copyright: © 2012 Stevenson, Woods, Hong, Kong, Thelen and Ladics. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Gregory S. Ladics, DuPont Agricultural Biotechnology, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Wilmington, DE 19880, USA. e-mail: gregory.s.ladics@usa.dupont.com

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