Simplifying Soybean Genetics

Pick Your Bean Day to feature hands-on demonstrations on science of soybean breeding

Senior Research Scientist Andrew Scaboo will speak on soybean breeding concepts and will take participants on tours of the research fields at Bradford.Senior Research Scientist Andrew Scaboo will speak on soybean breeding concepts and will take participants on tours of the research fields at Bradford.

Genetics is a science that can be very intimidating. Sometimes at microscopic levels, many have a hard time understanding how it works and often don’t realize the benefits the research can do.

Andrew Scaboo looks to change that. For the second year the senior research scientist at Bradford Research Center, along with the MU Soybean Breeding Program, will host the free Pick Your Bean Day on Sept. 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the center located near Columbia.

This year’s program will be centered on utilizing wild and exotic soybean collections to improve yield potential and will include informational presentations, field tours of soybean research plots and hands-on demonstrations.

“One of the greatest challenges facing current and future plant breeders is maintaining and developing a diverse gene pool,” said Scaboo. “This will help to ensure incremental gains in the genetic yield potential of modern agricultural crops.”

Following a complimentary breakfast, Scaboo will share a presentation on general plant breeding concepts and the latest studies going on at Agricultural Research Centers operated by the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) at the University of Missouri.

Next will be a tour of the research fields that grow thousands of varieties of domestic, wild and exotic soybeans that are tested each year for yields and other selected traits. Participants will choose and tag desirable plants from the field that will be used in experimental test lines by MU researchers.

“We will test and evaluate the plant selections made by all participates for many years to come as we develop useful breeding material,” added Scaboo. “This research will be important to farmers and soybean researchers across the nation”

The domesticated soybean cultivars grown by U.S. farmers today have a limited and narrow genetic base from which they were developed. An analysis of 258 public cultivars released between 1947 and 1988 showed that 26 ancestors accounted for nearly 90% of the parentage and 5 ancestors accounted for more than 55%. Therefore, there is currently a need to find novel genetic combinations that increase yield potential in soybean and broaden the available genetic base for present and future soybean breeding programs.

soybean field

To meet this need, the soybean breeding programs at MU in Columbia and Portageville are invested in utilizing both exotic and wild soybean collections for variety development. The research is part of a multi-institutional United Soybean Board project aimed at broadening the genetic base of North American soybean cultivars using basic science and applied breeding research. This project has a history of providing genetically diverse soybean lines to public and private breeding programs and soybean researchers across the nation, as well as contributing increased yield potential to farmers’ fields.

For more information about the MU Soybean Breeding Program, contact Andrew Scaboo at or by 573-882-3462.

To register for the free Pick Your Bean Day, contact Andy Biggs at

Bradford Research Center is located at 4968 Rangeline Road, southeast of Columbia. From the Broadway exit off Highway 63, head east on Highway WW for 5.6 miles. Turn right onto Rangeline Road and head south for 1.9 miles and the center will be on the right.

Bradford is one of CAFNR’s Agricultural Research Centers located throughout Missouri that host educational workshops. For upcoming events and the latest research from Bradford, visit the center’s new website at

To download press-quality photos of soybeans, visit CAFNR’s Flickr site at Photos of Bradford Research Center can be found at