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Soybean, Soya [Glycine max Merrill]


The situation in Japan and information from the NIAS genebank
Soybean is called "Daizu" in Japan. It is an ancient and important food crop. It is considered to have been introduced into Japan from China in the early times of Yayoi period (Yayoi period = 500 400 A.D.) (Hoshikawa 1981). Since that time, various landraces adapted to the local environment and specific uses have developed. Erect cultivars are most common. However, a twining soybean cultivar, which is called "ge-daizu", is grown in Okinawa prefecture as a green manure (Katsuta and Takeya 1992).
It has a small seed with flat shape.Soybean has been traditionally used in various ways. Young green pods are boiled briefly with salt and eaten as "Eda-mame". There are several ways of using the dry seed.
Soybean seeds are boiled to make it soft with sugar or soy sauce to make "Ni-mame". Roasted soybean seed is called "Iri-mame". "Hitashi-mame" is a boiled soybean pickled with vinegar or salt. Bean sprout of soybean called "Moyashi" is also used. Small seeded cultivars are fermented and processed into "Nattou". Soybean curd "Toufu" and soy sauce "Shouyu" are also fermented soybean products.
Soybean is considered to have been domesticated from Glycine soja Sieb & Zucc. in Northeast China (Hymowitz and Newell, 1980). Semi-cultivated or weedy form known as G. gracilis Skv., which shows somewhat intermediate morphological characteristics between soybean and wild soybean, is found only in Northeast China (Hymowitz and Singh 1987).
Wild form of soybean, G.soja, is distributed in China, Far East region of Russia, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.
The soybean is an annual food legume belonging to the subgenus Soja in the genus Glycine.
The subgenus Soja contains two species and the subgenus Glycine contains seven species (Hymowitz and Singh 1987). 2n=40.
Soybean shows an erect or twining growth habit. Flowers are small with white or purple color. Seed color is diverse, ranging from whitish yellow, yellow, green, brown, black and mottled.
Oil in seed is extracted and used in the food and commercial industry. Young pods are eaten after boiled. Dry seeds are eaten in various ways.
Recently, a Japanese exploration mission found soybean cultivated in the northern part of Pakistan (Egawa et al. 1992). The cultivars grown there have small flat shaped seeds and is used as a fodder.
Egawa,Y, H.Nakano and M.S.Bhatti 1992. Grain legumes. In "A Report of IBPGR Exploration in Northern Pakistan (1991)" NIAR/IBPGR.
Hoshikawa,K. 1981. Daizu (Soybean). in "Shokuyou Sakumotu" (Food Crops). Yoken-do, Tokyo. (in Japanese) pp.416-459.
Hymowitz,T.and Newell,C.A. 1980. Taxonomy, speciation, domestication, dissemination, germplasm resources and variation in the genus Glycine. In "Advances in Legume Science" pp. 251-264 (eds. R.J.Summerfield and A.H.Bunting) Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens.
Hymowitz, T and R.J.Singh. 1987. Taxonomy and Speciation. In "Soybeans:Improvement,Production, and Uses" 2nd ed. Agronomy Monograph no.16. pp.23-48.
Katsuta,M. and M.Takeya. 1992. Exploration and Collection of Grain Legumes and Millets in Okinawa Prefecture. Annual Report of Exploration and Introduction of Plant Genetic Resources. Vol.8 : 1-8. NIAR, MAFF. Japan. (in Japanese with English Summary)