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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Plant Science Research

Title: From George Washington Carver to the genome: leveraging genetics and molecular biology to improve soybean)

item Vance, Carroll

Submitted to: Biennial Conference on Molecular and Cellular Biology of the Soybean
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/11/2012
Publication Date: 8/11/2012
Citation: Vance, C.P. 2012. From George Washington Carver to the genome: leveraging genetics and molecular biology to improve soybean [abstract]. Molecular & Cellular Biology of the Soybean Conference, August 12-15, 2012, Des Moines, Iowa. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: In 1904, George Washington Carver studying the composition of soybeans concluded that they are a valuable source of protein and oil. He proposed that rotating soybeans with other crops would replenish the soil with nitrogen and minerals for 2 years. His findings brought soybeans into the mainstream of agriculture. Between 1910 and 1929 Charles V. Piper and William J. Morse published several agronomic papers on the "wonder crop" soybean. At that time only 20 varieties of soybean were available in the U.S. Growers held the first soybean field days in 1920 in Indiana and formed the National Soybean Growers' Association (renamed American Soybean Association in late 1925). In the 1920s Henry Ford tossed some soybean to his engineers and said, "You guys are supposed to be smart. You ought to be able to do something with them." By 1935 Mr. Ford was using one bushel of beans for every car produced. From 1924-1964 soybean yields increased from 11 to 24 bushels/acre. From 1965-2011 yields increased from 24-42 bushels/acre. Most of the advances in soybean yield through 2011 came from the efforts of plant breeders and agronomists, prior to the sequencing of the genome in 2010. In the future, how can we leverage the genome sequence of Glycine to improve yield and quality?

Last Modified: 8/24/2016
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