Interview with Dr. Rouf Mian

Dr. Mian is an expert in genetics, DNA technology, plant breeding and plant physiology.

Dr. Rouf Mian

Soybean Research Unit, USDA-Agricultural Research Service

Rouf Mian

Dr. Mian presented "Breeding Soybean with High Protein and Improved Amino Acid Profiles" during the session on Emerging Technologies for Plant Protein Quality-Based Supply Chains - US Soy. A recording of the presentation is available to registrants for 30 days after the meeting.

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About Dr. Mian

Dr. Rouf Mian received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Master of Science in Agronomy from Bangladesh Agricultural University. He received his Postgraduate Diploma in Seed Technology from Massey University in New Zealand and his Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

As a Postdoctoral Associate and Assistant Scientist in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at University of Georgia, Athens, Dr. Mian conducted research on physiology, molecular mapping and soybean breeding. Then, he served as the Principal Investigator of the Forage Grass Genomics Program at The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation to develop Express Sequence Tags (ESTs), EST-SSR and genomic SSR markers, construct molecular maps and tag Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) for important traits in tall fescue, ryegrass and alfalfa.

Dr. Mian joined USDA-ARS as a Research Geneticist (soybean breeder) in 2004. His current research is focused on the improvement of soybean seed composition (protein, oil, fatty acid and phytate), genetic diversity and high seed yield. He has been the PI of a large United Soybean Board grant for improvement of soybean meal protein since 2014. This grant has 16 Co-PIs from 10 major universities and two Agricultural Research Service Units. Dr. Mian received over 7M in grants since 2015.

Dr. Mian is an expert in genetics, DNA technology, plant breeding and plant physiology. He has supervised and trained 10 postdocs, five visiting scientists and four graduate students. Dr. Mian is an internationally recognized scientist and has presented numerous invited seminars in Korea, China, Brazil, Canada and Bangladesh. Dr. Mian has released six soybean cultivars and eight soybean germplasm and has published 140 referenced articles. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

What discoveries from your previous research informs the work you plan to discuss at the 2020 Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum?

The low seed protein content and less than optimum balance of some essential amino acids are major problems of current U.S. commercial soybean varieties. The protein content of U.S. commercial soybean seed has been declining for decades and is on a path to decline to 33.7% (45.6% meal protein) by 2030. Decades of breeding focused on increased yield with little attention to protein has resulted in decreased protein content in U.S. soybean. The lower protein content of soybean puts U.S. growers at a disadvantage in the global marketplace. Although increased yield is associated with reduced seed protein, the negative correlation between the two is not absolute. Scientific evidence shows that soybean breeders have the opportunity for meaningful (2-3%) increases in seed protein without yield loss. This opportunity is due in large part to the treasure trove of genetic diversity in seed protein that exists in the exotic soybean accessions preserved in the USDA Collection.

What is the significance of the research you plan to discuss at the 2020 Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum, either for future research routes or for real-world applications?

A 1% increase in seed protein without reducing seed oil or seed yield can increase the value of the U.S. soybean crop by nearly US $3 billion and may also increase the demand of U.S. soybean in the international market.

Describe the biggest problem you encountered and solved during your most recent project?

The negative correlation of soybean seed protein with seed yield was the biggest problem. We have partially solved this problem and made significant progress in reducing the negative impact of seed protein on seed yield.

Share a turning point or defining moment in your work as a scientist and/or industry professional.

A defining moment in my most recent research would be the development of soybean cultivars (e.g., Highpro1) with higher seed protein without corresponding loss in seed yield.

What excites you about your work?

Soybean ranks second only to corn in U.S. row crops with an annual value of nearly US $40 billion and 70% of the value of soybean comes from the soybean meal (the protein by product after extraction of oil). As mentioned above, small improvements in seed protein may have a huge impact on the crop’s value.

What are potential future directions for the work you are discussing at the 2020 Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum?

Future directions for this work include sharing the products (cultivars, germplasm, genes, molecular markers) of our research group with the private sector breeders, producers, processors of the poultry-livestock-aquaculture industry. Following up with feeding studies would be another potential development in this project, which would be a logical step for our research achievements to benefit society.

What do you like to do when you are not in the lab or presenting at meetings?

Gardening, walking and hiking are some of my hobbies.