College of Agricultural and Life Science Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Interdisciplinary Research, Texas A&M University; 2012
Postdoc – Plant Pathology; University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY; 1993
Ph.D. – Biochemistry; Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; 1989
M.S. – Crop Science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX; 1984
B.S – Horicultural Sciences; Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; 1982
Our research aims to utilize advances in high-throughput genotyping, bioinformatics, and phenotyping to acquire knowledge of plant genes and germplasm, and utilize this information to develop markers for marker-assisted selection and for the development of new germplasm. To meet the needs of the increasing world population, crop productivity needs to double on existing agricultural lands, and breeding practices must be more efficient in meeting the needs for food, feed, and fiber. Technologies such as sequenced-based high-throughput genotyping, whole genome gene expression analyses, novel computational tools and high throughput phenotyping – can accelerate plant breeding and enhance the speed at which new varieties are developed. Our research projects aim to develop as well as utilize recent advances in high-throughput sequencing, genotyping, transcriptomics, and bioinformatics to aid breeders to develop new sources of germplasm with enhanced traits of interest.
The use of marker-based technology in applied plant breeding has continued to increase. Prior to the recent advances in sequence-based marker technology, genome-wide marker coverage and associated costs were limiting factors for many applied breeding programs. Although genotyping is still a major expense, declining costs of high-throughput sequence-based marker systems has facilitated large-scale genotyping efforts in applied breeding programs. Next-generation sequencing technologies and improvement of genotyping/bioinformatics platforms has allowed for the characterization of the genetic composition of large sets of germplasm. In recent years, genomic selection, in which selection is based entirely on marker effects in specific generations, is becoming a major thrust for many breeding programs. It is anticipated that while selection based solely on marker effects will eventually supplant phenotyping in specific generations, combining marker-based and phenotypic-based selection will still be important for the foreseeable future in many public plant breeding programs.
We seek to develop genomic and genetic tools for several plant species including sorghum, pecan, rose and coffee to aid in crop improvement. Although vast amounts of information in genetics, genomics, phenomics and bioinformatics has been generated for many agronomic crops including sorghum, this is not true for a number of horticultural plants. Thus there is a need to continue to develop the genomic and genetic resources for these species to accelerate the breeding process. Additionally, there is still a challenge in determining how to take advantage of these resources in plant breeding programs for efficient crop improvement. Thus the overall goal of our research is to develop improved germplasm for a number of plant species either by introgressing traits from unadapted germplasm or through identification and incorporation of traits of interest into elite breeding material.