CAHNRS Department of Horticulture

Genomics Lab


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.

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.

Latest News

The Root of the Problem

February 5, 2014

A professor, a graduate student and a team of farmers and researchers are doing some digging to learn about root rot.“It’s all about survival,” said Amit Dhingra, an associate professor in the Department of Horticulture. Read more at the Daily Evergreen.

Fruit Ripening Compounds Discovered

January 13, 2014

Scientists at Washington State University have discovered ripening compounds that show promise for making pears ripen more ­predictably. Pears are mature, but unripe and hard when they are harvested, and some varieties, such as d’Anjou, require a period of chilling in storage before they will ripen.Read more of the article by Geraldine Warner at Good […]

Of 130+ applicants, 25 undergraduates receive awards to pursue research

October 10, 2013

PULLMAN, Wash. – Twenty-five students from a record pool of applicants for Washington State University awards in undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activities will each receive $1,000 to support their work. Zachary Reeves, a freshman in electrical engineering mentored by Amit Dhingra is among the award recipients. He will research custom algorithms to execute programs […]

Genomics Lab, PO Box 646414, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164, 509-335-3625, Contact Us
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