David James Mackill

David Mackill
  • Adjunct Faculty
2140 PES
UC Davis, One Shields Ave, Davis CA 95616


  • Ph.D., University of California, Davis; Genetics, 1981
  • M.S., University of California, Davis; Agronomy, 1977
  • B.S., University of California, Davis; Plant Science, 1976

Research interests and expertise: 

Most of my career has focused on the genetics and breeding of rice, with an emphasis on abiotic stress tolerance. I was previously head of plant breeding and program leader at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. My work on submergence tolerance of rice has resulted in development and dissemination of tolerant varieties in Asian countries. I have extensive experience in international agricultural development. Currently I work with Mars Inc. on genetics and breeding of cacao and peanut.

Current projects: 

  • Genetics and breeding of cacao. These projects are funded by Mars Inc. and involve developing improved cacao cultivars with high productivity and resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. Activities are carried out in greenhouses (Davis and Miami) and at field sites in tropical countries.
  • Rice projects. Collaborative projects with Blumwald and Sundaresan labs.
  • Peanut breeding and genetics. Projects supported by Mars involving developing high-quality and high-yield peanut varieties.

Current teaching: 

  • Theory and Practice of Development; IAD 200 (fall quarter)

External activities that contribute to scholarship:

  • Senior Director, Cocoa Genetics and Breeding, Mars Wrigley Confectionary
  • Advisory Board, Rice Journal (Springer)
  • Member and former Board Chair, ARFUSA (Asia Rice Foundation-USA)

Prizes, Awards, Honors:

  • Tech Award Lauriat, Economic Development, 2012
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, 2011
  • Award of Distinction, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis, 2010
  • Gold medal for contributions to Agriculture, Government of Vietnam, 2010
  • National Research Initiative Discovery Award from U.S. Department of Agriculture for discovery of the SUB1 gene, 2008
  • Best Scientific Article Award of the CGIAR for the paper Xu et al. (2006) Nature 442:705-708, 2007
  • Fellow, American Society of Agronomy, 2007
  • Honorary Fellow, Crop Science Society of the Philippines, 2006
  • Fellow, Crop Science Society of America, 2003

Google Scholar




  • Cacao
  • Peanut
  • Rice
  • Genetics
  • Plant breeding
  • International agriculture
  • Sustainability
  • Abiotic stress
  • Germplasm
  • Cocoa
  • Database