In a non-descript building in central Missouri, Andrew Scaboo works to turn humble seeds into the next big beans. Glycine max, or soybeans, is Missouri’s most important crop, generating nearly $2 billion in annual revenue.
Most of the varieties grown in the northern part of the state (north of I-70) aren’t developed in Missouri. That’s where Scaboo comes in. His title is Senior Research Scientist in CAFNR’s Division of Plant Sciences and his task is to breed soybean lines for increased yield, improved human health, and greater tolerance of pests and climatic conditions in Missouri.
His work builds on a tradition of excellence and ingenuity in soybean research at CAFNR. “Grover Shannon (MU Professor of Plant Sciences) is the main reason I’m here,” Scaboo said. “He’s been extremely successful in variety development and putting varieties in farmers’ fields,” Scaboo said.
In conjunction with USDA scientist Kristin Bilyeu, Shannon identified non-transgenic genes responsible for high oleic acid content in soybeans, and holds one of three patents associated with high oleic acid soybeans.
Soybeans high in oleic acid have natural oxidative stability, so their oil naturally resists spoilage. Traditional processed soybean oil is hydrogenated, a process that makes the oil non-perishable, but also results in trans-fats, which can lead to high cholesterol and health problems. Hydrogenated oils are in most processed foods including chips, cookies and coffee creamer.
In tandem with Shannon, Scaboo is breeding beans high in heart-healthy oleic acid that also perform well in the field. It’s one of four collaborative research projects underway at the Bay Farm, and Bradford Research Center in Columbia, at other CAFNR research centers around the state, and at sites in Florida, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico.
The Farm Research Center and The BigYield.us Team is an active part of Dr. Scaboo’s research througout Missouri. “Dr. Scaboo’s Research plays a critical role in understanding soybeans and the potential that still remains locked inside of them in terms of high yield. We value his time and talents a great deal here and look forward to being on the cutting edge of soybean science and research along with him,” says John Ortiz, General Manager of BigYield.us.
Below is a series of images with Dr. Andrew Scaboo along with Bill Cook of BigYield.us and Steve Krause of Midwest Premium Genetics.