- Research Geneticist, USDA-ARS & Adjunct Professor
- Borlaug Center 157B
Ph.D. – Agronomy; University of Illinios-Urbana; Champaign, IL; 1984
M.S. – Agronomy; University of Illinios-Urbana; Champaign, IL; 1984
B.S. – Agronomy; University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI; 1977
Dr. Robert Klein’s program aims to utilize recent advances in high-throughput genotyping and phenotyping, knowledge of gene-to-phenotype trait relationships, whole genome profiles of genetic diversity within and between sorghum germplasm accessions, and emerging information management systems to acquire knowledge of sorghum genes and germplasm, and utilize this information to enhance the rate of genetic gain for complex traits such as grain yield through the development of new adapted breeding material.
The challenge facing crop geneticists and breeders is how to develop strategies that combine genetic resources with the vast amount of knowledge and tools in genomics, marker-trait associations, high-throughput phenotyping platforms, genome editing, and bioinformatics to accelerate the rate of genetic gain in applied breeding programs. Utilizing a pre-breeding backcrossing scheme augmented with robust genomic and phenotypic tools, this project focuses on the improvement of sorghum hybrids by the introgression of desirable traits from unadapted and wild germplasm into elite sorghum inbreds, which will introduce new elite germplasm and favorable genes for complex traits, including grain yield, into sorghum breeding programs. The products of this project will include well-characterized elite sorghum inbreds with new genetic diversity and desirable traits, improved effectiveness of hybrid breeding programs through the introduction of new superior-performing diverse elite inbreds, and the development of public resources including a backcross-nested association mapping (BC-NAM) population and associated phenotypic and genotypic characterization to facilitate genomic-assisted breeding and innovative approaches for dissecting the genetic architecture of complex traits.