Review: The promise and limits for enhancing sulfur-containing amino acid content of soybean seed

Hari B. Krishnan, Joseph M. Jez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Soybeans are an excellent source of protein in monogastric diets and rations with ∼75% of soybeans produced worldwide used primarily for animal feed. Even though soybeans are protein-rich and have a well-balanced amino acid profile, the nutritive quality of this important crop could be further improved by elevating the concentrations of certain amino acids. The levels of the sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine in soybean seed proteins are inadequate for optimal growth and development of monogastric animals, which necessitates dietary supplementation. Subsequently, concerted efforts have been made to increase the concentrations of cysteine and methionine in soybean seeds by both classical breeding and genetic engineering; however, these efforts have met with only limited success. In this review, we discuss the strengths and weakness of different approaches in elevating the sulfur amino acid content of soybeans. Manipulation of enzymes involved in the sulfur assimilatory pathway appears to be a viable avenue for improving sulfur amino acid content. This approach requires a through biochemical characterization of sulfur assimilatory enzymes in soybean seeds. We highlight recent studies targeting key sulfur assimilatory enzymes and the manipulation of sulfur metabolism in transgenic soybeans to improve the nutritive value of soybean proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-21
Number of pages8
JournalPlant Science
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Essential amino acids
  • Nutritive value
  • Seed storage proteins
  • Soybean
  • Sulfur assimilation


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