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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. Read more.

Issues Facing the Pacific Northwest Pear Industry

December 4, 2011

Watch video.

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.


Latest News

The Age of the Pear

The pear industry has unlimited potential and is ripe for a revolution.

The pear has been a staple food in Europe for centuries — often the subject of paintings by Van Gogh and highly revered by fables and foodies alike. Read the rest of the article here.

Role of Entrepreneurism in a University

Striving Towards Excellence and Tangible Impact – Role of Entrepreneurism in a University

October 31st, 2:00-3:00pm

Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Location: Lighty 405

Speaker: Amit Dhingra
Ph.D. Associate Professor and Founder of Phytelligence Inc.

For Questions and to Request AMS Contact:
WSU Office of Commercialization, 509-335-5526

WSU researchers taming the wild huckleberry

Washington State University researchers are setting their sights on domesticating the wild huckleberry, a goal that has eluded plant scientists for decades.

But in a WSU greenhouse, cloned shrubs are producing berries. Scientists say their ultimate goal is a sturdy plant with high yields of the tangy-tart berries.

Read the rest of the article by Becky Kramer here.