With the sequencing of several genomes, genomics research in non-model plant species has entered a new era. The US West Coast and the State of Washington produce some of the best fruit crops globally. Research in the program focuses on basic and applied aspects of the non-model specialty crops and bioenergy crops for their improvement.
The importance of being . . . green?
Development of a fruit is accompanied by changes in pigment and several secondary metabolic processes are in full swing at this transitional phase. Organelles, namely chloroplast and mitochondria, are the major centers of activity during this period. The basic research emphasis in the program is to understand plastid development and function in Rosaceae fruit and non-model crops. Mature fruit plastids have been found to be involved in the synthesis and storage of important phytonutrients such as carotenoids and tocopherols as well as precursors to volatiles that play a role in organoleptic properties as well as pre- and postharvest fruit quality. Evaluation of diverse plastidial functions in fruit and bioenergy crops is expected to provide clues about energy transduction that can enable understanding and alleviation of several physiological disorders as well as improvement of photosynthetic function for improved productivity.
The applied research in the program is centered on using physiology and phenomics-guided omics (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics) investigations to identify genes underlying economically important traits in horticultural and specialty crops. Further, as candidate genes are discovered, reverse and forward genetics approaches are used to confirm gene-trait relationships. The information generated from this approach can be practically utilized in developing physiological and chemical-based solutions for existing varieties and new varieties can be developed through accelerated plant breeding and biotechnology approaches.
Plant Genomics Perspectives
The Pear Revival Journey
March 12, 2013
Soon after arriving at WSU in 2006, I embarked on a journey with a passionate set of individuals to revive an industry that has remained in suspended animation since the early 1900s. An email from a pear farmer in Yakima urged me to apply for funding to do pear research. That was my first introduction to a segment of the Pacific Northwest fruit industry that, while long an underdog relative to apples, has long sought to reinvent itself for the 21st century marketplace. Read more.
Issues Facing the Pacific Northwest Pear Industry
December 4, 2011
Innovation Crucial to Pear’s Future
September 2, 2011
This just in from The Packer: “Innovation crucial to pear’s future” In general, the pear industry is making money but is fragile because of a lack of innovation, said Amit Dhingra, a Washington State University horticultural genomicist. Read more.
Plant biotech startup speeds propagation
July 9, 2014
Washington State University researchers-turned-entrepreneurs have developed a method for growing trees three times faster while conserving water and reducing the need for pesticides – and they just made their first sale. Read the full article by Kate Wilhite at WSU News. Phytelligence founders Amit Dhingra, left, Kathie Nicholson, Tyson Koepke and Scott Schaeffer. Read more.
WSU Horticulturist Dhingra Planting the Seeds for Undergraduate Research
July 7, 2014
From savoring the distinctive, flavorful crunch of an apple to eyeing the plump, crimson cherries adorning mouth-watering summer produce displays, people love fruit. But few perhaps know fruit like Washington State University horticulturist Amit Dhingra, who looks beyond the pits and leaves into the genome of these sweet treats. Read More.
Intelli-GEN-Design: Fruit of the Future
June 12, 2014
Amit Dhingra was one of the 15 featured speakers at the inaugural TEDxWSU event. He talked about engaging graduate students in working directly with farmers and solving their problems. Watch video.