Virginia Tech® home

Bo Zhang

Associate Professor
Bo Zhang
220 Ag Quad Lane
509 Latham Hall
Blacksburg, Virginia


I have a two-way appointment in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences covering 70% research, 30% teaching.  The mission of my research program is developing elite soybean varieties adapted to Mid-Atlantic region using both classical and molecular breeding methodologies. I currently teach one course, Plant Breeding and Genetics, within the School.


  • Plant Breeding


  • Ph.D. Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Arkansas, 2006
  • M.S. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, China, 2003
  • B.A. Horticulture, Shenyang Agricultural University, Shenyang, Liaoning, China, 1998

My breeding objectives are:

  • Develop new and improved, herbicide tolerant and conventional soybean varieties adapted to various production systems in Virginia and mid-Atlantic region in a steady flow,
  • Incorporate value-added traits to specialty soybeans to reinforce VA soybean growers’ competitive ability in various market,
  • Develop diverse soybean germplasm in yield, maturity, pest resistance, stress tolerance, value added traits, etc. to broad genetic background of soybean,
  • Utilize molecular techniques to modify seed compositions for seed quality improvement.
  • Train the new generation plant breeders for both public and private sectors.
  • CSES 4144: Plant Breeding and Genetics

Associate Professor | 2022 - Present
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 

Assistant Professor | 2017 - 2022
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 

Senior Research Associate and Research Assistant Professor | 2013 - 2017
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA

Assistant Professor | 2011-2013
Agricultural Research Station
Virginia State University, Petersburg, VA

Molecular Lab Supervisor | 2008 - 2011
Bayer Crop Science, Inc.
DeWitt, AR

Postdoctoral Research Associate | 2007 - 2009
Dept. of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 

Assistant Manager | 1998 - 2000 
Hancunhe Vegetable Model Company
Beijing, China

  • Student award by the Association of Chinese Soil and Plant Scientists of North America, 2005
  • The 3rd place award in the Division of Minority Student Poster Competition at American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America International Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, 2006
  • The 3rd place award for Ph.D. oral presentation at Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture, Fayetteville, AR, 2006
  • 2021 CALS Team Award
  1. Escamilla, D.M., Rosso, M.L., Holshouser, D., Chen, P., Zhang, B. 2019. Improvement of soybean cultivars for natto production through the selection of seed morphological and physiological characteristics and seed compositions: A review. Plant Breeding
  2. Orazaly, M., Chen, P., Zhang, B., Florez-Palacios, L., Zeng, A. 2018. Confirmation of SSR markers and QTL for seed calcium content and hardness of soybean. Journal of Crop Improvement 32(1):71-89. doi: 10.1080/15427528.2017.1398701.
  3. Rosso, M. L., Shang, C., Correa, E., Zhang, B. 2018. An efficient HPLC approach to quantify Kunitz Trypsin Inhibitor in soybean seeds. Crop Science 58(4):1616-1623. doi:10.2135/cropsci2018.01.0061.
  4. Averitt, B., Shang, C., Rosso, M., Qin, J., Zhang, M., Rainy, K. M., Zhang, B. 2017. Impact of mips1, lpa1, and lpa2 alleles for low phytic acid content on.agronomic, seed quality, and seed composition traits of soybean. Crop Science 57(5):2490-2499. doi:10.2135/cropsci2016.12.1028.
  5. Escamilla, D.M., Rosso, M.L., Strawn, L.K., Zhang, B. 2017. Evaluation of important seed and sprout traits as potential selection criteria in breeding varieties for sprout soybeans. Euphytica 213(10): 229. DOI: 10.1007/s10681-017-2007-0.
  6. Orazaly, M., Chen, P., Zhang, B., Florez-Palacios, L., Zeng, A. 2017. Confirmation of SSR markers and QTL for seed calcium content and hardness of soybean. Journal of Crop Improvement 32:71-89.
  7. Qin, J., Song, Q., Zhang, M., Zhang, B. 2017. Genome-wide association mapping of resistance to Phytophthora sojae in a soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) germplasm collection from maturity groups IV and V. PLoS ONE 12:e0184613.
  8. Nolen, S., Zhang, B., Kering, M. 2016. Increase fresh edamame bean supply through season extension techniques. Journal of Horticulture doi:10.4172/2376-0354.1000170.
  9. Qin, J., Zhang, J., Liu, D., Yin, C., Wang, E., Chen, P., Chen, H., Ma, J., Zhang, B., Xu, J., Zhang, M. 2016. iTRAQbased analysis of developmental dynamics in the soybean leaf proteome reveals pathways associated with leaf photosynthetic rate. Molecular Genetics and Genomics doi: 10.1007/s00438-016-1202-3.
  10. Qin, J., Zhang, J., Wang, F., Yang, C., Wang, J., Zhang, B., Wu, C., Chen, P., Zhang, M. 2016. Population structure and association analysis of traits in summer soybeans. Journal of Crop Improvement doi: 10.1080/15427528.2016.1200703.
  11. Kering, M., Zhang, B. 2015. Effect of priming and seed size on germination and emergence of six food-type soybean varieties. International Journal of Agronomy doi:10.1155/2015/859212.
  12. Liu, G., Zhao, L., *Averitt, B., Liu, Y., Zhang, B., Chang, R., Ma, Y., Luan, X., Guan, R., Qiu, L. 2015. Georgraphical distribution of GmTfl1 alleles in Chinese soybean varieties. The Crop Journal 3:371-378.
  13. Orazaly, M., Chen, P., Zeng, A., Zhang, B. 2015. Identification and confirmation of quantitative trait loci associated with soybean seed hardness. Crop Science 55(2):688-694.
  14. Rogers, J., Chen, P., Shi, A., Zhang, B., Scaboo, A., Smith, S.F., Zeng, A. 2015. Agronomic performance and genetic progress of selected historical soybean varieties in the southern USA. Plant Breeding 134:85-193. doi:10.1111/pbr.12222.
  15. Zeng, A., Chen, P., Zhang, B., Ozaraly, M., Florez-Palacios, L., Brye, K.R. 2015. Identification and confirmation of quantitative trait loci for stachyose content in soybean seed. Plant Breeding 134:178-185.
  16. Berger-Doyle, J., Zhang, B., Smith, S.F., Chen, P. 2014. Planting date, irrigation, and row spacing effects on agronomic traits of food-grade soybean. Advances in Crop Science and Technology 2(4):149. doi:10.4172/2329-8863.1000149.
  17. Mayta, J., Chen, P., Popp, M.P., Dong, D., Wu, C.J., Zhang, B., Smith, S.F., Scaboo, A. 2014. Break-even profitability for food-grade specialty soybeans. Agricultural Sciences 2(2):1-11. doi:10.12735/as.v2i2p01.
  18. Orazaly, M., Chen, P., Zhang, B., Zeng, A. 2014. Quantitative trait loci mapping for seed calcium content of soybean. Crop Science 54:500-506.
  19. Wang, Y., Chen, P., Zhang, B. 2014. Quantitative trait loci analysis of soluble sugar contents in soybean. Plant Breeding doi: 10.1111/pbr.12178.
  20. Yoshikawa, Y., Chen, P., Zhang, B., Scaboo, A., Orazaly, M. 2014. Evaluation of seed chemical quality traits and sensory properties of natto soybean. Food Chemistry 153:186-192.
  21. Yousuf, B.A., Brown, T., Zhang, B., Rutto, L., Kering, M., Temu, V. 2014. Evaluation of composition and in vitro dry matter disappearance of alkali treated vegetable soybean residue. The Journal of Agricultural Science 6:21-29.
  22. Zeng, A., Chen, P., Shi, A., Wang, D., Zhang, B., Orazaly, M., Florez-Palacios, L., Brye, K., Song, Q., Cregan, P. 2014. Identification of quantitative trait loci for sucrose content in soybean seed. Crop Science 54:554-564.
  23. Wang, Y., Shi, A., Zhang, B., Chen, P. 2013. Mapping powdery mildew resistance gene in V97-3000 soybean. Plant Breeding 132:625-629.
  24. Shi, A., Chen, P., Zhang, B., Hou, A. 2010. Genetic diversity and association analysis of protein and oil content in food-grade soybeans from Asia and the United States. Plant Breeding 129: 250-256. 
  25. Zhang, B., Chen, P., Florez-Palacios, S. L., Shi, A., Hou, A., Ishibashi, T. 2010. Seed quality attributes of food-grade soybeans from the U.S. and Asia. Euphytica 173: 387-396.
  26. Hou, A., Chen, P., Alloatti, J., Li, D., Mozzoni, L., Zhang, B., Shi, A. 2009. Genetic variability of seed sugar content in worldwide soybean germplasm collections. Crop Science 49:903-912.
  27. Hou, A., Chen, P., Shi, A., Zhang, B., Wang, Y.J. 2009. Sugar variation in soybean seed assessed with a rapid extraction and quantification method. International Journal of Agronomy doi:10.1155/2009/484571.
  28. Zhang, B., Chen, P., Shi, A., Hou, A., Ishibashi, T., Wang, D. 2009. Putative quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with calcium content in soybean seed. Journal of Heredity 100:263-269.
  29. Bajaj, S., Chen, P., Longer, D.E., Shi, A., Hou, A., Ishibashi, T., Brye, K.R. 2008. Irrigation and planting date effects on seed yield and agronomic traits of early-maturing soybean. Journal of Crop Improvement 22:47-65.
  30. Bajaj, S., Chen, P., Longer, D.E., Hou, A., Shi, A., Ishibashi, T., Zhang, B., Brye, K.R. 2008. Planting date and irrigation effects on seed quality of early-maturing soybean in the mid-South USA. Journal of New Seeds 9:212-233.
  31. Feng, C., Hou, A., Chen, P., Cornelious, B., Shi, A., Zhang, B. 2008. Genetic diversity among popular historical southern U.S. soybean cultivars using AFLP markers. Journal of Crop Improvement 22:31-46.
  32. Li, Y., Guan, R., Liu, Z., Ma, Y., Wang, L., Li, L., Lin, F., Luan, W., Chen, P., Yan, Z., Guan, Y., Zhu, L., Ning, X., Smulders, M.J.M., Li, W., Piao, R., Cui, Y., Yu, Z., Guan, M., Chang, R., Hou, A., Shi, A., Zhang, B., Zhu, S., Qiu, L. 2008. Genetic structure and diversity of cultivated soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] landraces in China. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 117:857-871.
  33. Shi, A., Chen, P., Gergerich, R., Hou, A., Zhang, B. 2008. Interaction between two strains of soybean mosaic virus in soybean. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology 30:486-491.
  34. Shi, A., Chen, P., Li, D., Zheng, C., Hou, A., Zhang, B. 2008. Genetic confirmation of two independent genes for resistance to soybean mosaic virus in J05 soybean using SSR markers. Journal of Heredity 99:598-603.
  35. Shi, A., Chen, P., Li, D., Zheng, C., Zhang, B., Hou, A. 2008. Pyramiding multiple genes for resistance to soybean mosaic virus in soybean using molecular markers. Molecular Breeding 23:113-124.
  36. Shi, A., Chen, P., Zheng, C., Hou, A., Zhang, B. 2008. A PCR-based marker for the Rsv1 locus conferring resistance to soybean mosaic virus. Crop Science 48:262-268.
  37. Zhang, B., Chen, P., Chen, Y., Wang, D., Shi, A., Hou, A., Ishibashi, T. 2008. Quantitative trait loci mapping of seed hardness in soybean. Crop Science 48:1341-1349.
  38. Zhang, B., Tamura, M., Berger-Doyle, J., Chen, P. 2008. Comparison of instrumental methods for measuring hardness of food-grade soybean. Journal of Texture Studies 39:28-39. (
  39. Zhang, B., Hettiarachchy, N., Chen, P., Horax, R., Cornelious, B., Zhu, D. 2006. Influence of the application of three different elicitors on soybean plants on the concentrations of several isoflavones in soybean seeds. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 54:5548-54.
  40. Qiu, L., Cao, Y., Zhen, R., Zhou, X., Wang, G., Sun, J., Xie, H., Zhang, B., Li, X., Xu, Z., Liu, L. 2003. Establishment of Chinese soybean (G. Max) core collection I. Sampling strategy. Scientia Agricultura Sinica 36:1442-1449.
  41. Zhang, B., Chang, R., Qiu, L. 2003. Diversity comparison and genetic relationship analysis between awarded soybean cultivars and their ancestors in China. Journal of Agriculture Biotechnology 11:351-358.
  42. Zhang, B., Chang, R., Qiu, L. 2003. Primary study on predicting heterosis by SSR markers distance among soybean cultivars. Soybean Science 22:166-172.
  43. Zhang, B., Qiu, L., Chang, R. 2003. Advance on genetic diversity and core collection establishment for soybean cultivars. The Crop Journal 94:46-48.