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.