Breeding and Genetics

Khanday and team pioneer rice hybridization method

Imtiyaz Khanday, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, is co-leading an international team that has propagated a commercial hybrid rice strain as a clone through seeds with 95 percent efficiency. The method that led to this breakthrough could lower the cost of hybrid rice seed, making high-yielding, disease-resistant rice strains available to low-income farmers worldwide.

Dubcovsky recognized with Meyer medal for advancing wheat breeding

Jorge Dubcovsky and researchers in his lab have been recognized for providing basic genetic information about wheat and improved germplasm that is being used by scientists around the world to improve “the staff of life.” Those efforts are bringing new varieties of wheat to farmers adapting to new conditions. For his leadership in those efforts, Dubcovsky was awarded the Frank N. Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources, and a $2,000 prize, at the recent annual meeting of the Crop Science Society of America.

Brummer honored by alfalfa conference

E. Charles Brummer has been honored for bettering alfalfa science and cultivation by the North American Alfalfa Improvement Conference. Brummer, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, is the director of the UC Davis Plant Breeding Center and involved in researching a wide range of crops for forage, grain and fiber.

Pepper genetics pioneer Paul Smith honored

Plant pathologist Paul G. Smith, the founder of pepper genetics and a retired professor at UC Davis, has been recognized for a lifetime of contributions that continue to shape plant sciences today.

Smith was a professor in the former UC Davis Department of Vegetable Crops, one of four departments that merged to become the current Department of Plant Sciences. His contributions were recognized at the recent 25th International Pepper Conference in Tucson, Ariz.

Melotto Lab seeks mighty lettuce

Maeli Melotto and her team at the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences are looking for strains of lettuce that are genetically stronger at resisting bacteria that can make people sick. Their work has led to the identification of a gene that could play a role in the plant’s susceptibility to E. coli, a bacterium that causes potentially lethal intestinal illness.

Brown team seeks pistachios that can thrive amid change

A multi-state team led by Patrick J. Brown has been awarded nearly $3.8 million over the next four years for a project to improve pistachio production as the industry faces warmer winters and scarcer water.

“We are at this unique point in history where we can do this,” said Brown, an associate professor in the Department of Plant Sciences.

Lima bean research awarded $3.3 million from SCRI

Succotash lovers, rejoice: UC Davis researchers will lead a national effort to enlarge the resources for breeding tender, buttery lima beans. The project includes looking at key traits that people and growers want, finding where on the lima bean genome those traits are located, breeding and field trials to grow plants with the most desirable qualities, and creating a public database that other breeders can use to create new and better varieties.

Parker’s proposal: More beans with less water

Boutique chefs will be pleased.

Organic legumes already developed by postdoctoral researcher Travis Parker are prized, especially in Southwest cuisine, for their colorful patterns, flavor and texture. Parker’s new work seeks even better, more beautiful beans for arid climes. The Department of Plant Sciences geneticist has received a boost for his work with a $20,000 grant, funded jointly by the Organic Farming Research Foundation and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.

Blumwald Lab discovery could reduce pollution, save billions

Researchers in the Department of Plant Sciences have found a way to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizers needed to grow cereal crops such as rice. The discovery could save farmers in the United States billions of dollars annually in fertilizer costs while also benefiting the environment.

The research comes out of the lab of Eduardo Blumwald, a distinguished professor of plant sciences, who has found a new pathway for cereals to capture the nitrogen they need to grow.