Overview

Strawberry     Fruit examples

Strawberry evolutionary genetics, applied genomics, and breeding.

The genus Fragaria (the strawberries) comprises at least 24 species, one of which is of considerable economic importance. The principle commercial strawberry species, Fragaria xananassa, is a hybrid species having arisen less than 300 years ago via hybridization between the Chilean strawberry species Fragaria chiloensis and a representative of the North American wild strawberry, Fragaria virginiana. The cultivated strawberry and its two immediate ancestors are all octoploid species, which means that they possess eight sets of chromosomes and therefore have complex genome compositions.

Our research interests include tracing the evolutionary ancestries of the octoploid strawberry species to their ancestral diploid sources, understanding the compositions of the complex octoploid genomes, contributing to the development of publicly available germplasm and genomic resources for basic and applied strawberry research, defining associations between economically important traits and molecular markers, advancing the practice of marker-assisted breeding (MAB), characterizing genes of economic interest, and breeding new strawberry varieties suitable for the needs of the Northern New England region.

 

ChenopodiumTom Davis and Anita Klein with Quinoa

Quinoa and its weedy relatives

What is the connection between quinoa, a nutritious and increasingly popular grain crop native to the Peruvian Andes, and lambsquarters, a pesky weed on farms and in flowerbeds? It so happens that both are members of the plant family Chenopodiaceae, which means that they are closely related to each other and to a host of other wild and sometimes weedy “chenopods”. We are exploring the possibility that quinoa can be interbred with a suitable wild chenopod species that is well adapted to the environmental conditions of Northern New England (NNE), perhaps leading to the local "re-domestication" of quinoa into a form that is well suited for production as a specialty crop in the NNE region. As initial steps toward this goal, we are surveying the representation of wild chenopod species in NNE, comparing the genomic compositions of the surveyed species to determine which might be most successfully interbred with quinoa, and becoming acquainted with quinoa cultivation and harvest. We are also interested in contributing to the further development of publicly available germplasm and genomic resources for basic and applied research on the chenopod species of current or potential economic importance.