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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

Technologies on the Shelf
2016 marks the 30th anniversary of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug’s establishment of the World Food Prize organization. This year World Food Prize hosted the 2016 Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium, held October 12-14 in Des Moines, Iowa. In a World Food Prize side event, WSU Associate Professor Amit Dhingra presented on the forthcoming paper:Technologies on the Shelf. The series keynote paper is part of a Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) 12 paper project, The Need for Agricultural Innovation to Sustainably Feed the World by 2050, investigating methods to advance global food security. More information on the 2016 Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium and CAST can be found at these web sites:
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