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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Personal Bio
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Dr. Giovannoni is a San Francisco native who received a BS in Biochemistry at UC Davis in 1985.  It was here that he received his introduction to laboratory research in the Department of Plant Pathology under the supervision of Bill Timberlake who told Jim “plants are the future”. Jim received a Ph.D. in Molecular and Physiological Plant Biology from UC Berkeley in 1990.  The later was based on research in the area of cell wall metabolism as related to fruit texture in tomato (R. Fischer, advisor).  Jim spent 1990 – 1992 as a post-doctoral research associate at Cornell University in the laboratory of Steve Tanksley working on genetic mapping of fruit ripening loci in tomato.  In October 1992 Jim took a position as Assistant Professor in the Horticultural Sciences Department at Texas A&M where he developed a research program based on analysis of developmental determinants of fruit ripening using molecular genetic and genomics approaches.  He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1997 and appointed director of the Texas A&M Center for Nutrition, Health, and Food Genomics in 1999 and simultaneously began to focus a portion of his research efforts on nutritional modification of crop species.  Jim has been a Plant Molecular Biologist with the USDA-ARS Robert W. Holley Research Center for Agriculture and Health in Ithaca, NY since late September 2000 and continues to work on tomato with emphases on genetic determinants of ripening and nutrient quality of fruit.  Dr. Giovannoni's laboratory is housed in the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (BTI) on the Cornell University campus.  He holds the title of Scientist at BTI and is an Adjunct Professor in the departments of Plant Biology, Plant Breeding and Horticultural Sciences at Cornell.  The focus of research in the Giovannoni laboratory is molecular and genetic analysis of fruit ripening and related signal transduction systems with emphasis on aspects of nutritional quality.  Research focuses on the regulation of ripening and genetic basis of fruit nutritional quality using tomato as a model system.  The Giovannoni laboratory has isolated or participated in the isolation of many of the genes corresponding to important fruit ripening mutations used in shelf-life and quality enhancement and has identified the first transcription factors regulating the ripening process.  The lab has shown that two of these genes are widely conserved through evolution and likely regulate ripening in numerous species that develop fleshy fruit.  Researchers in the Giovannoni lab are also characterizing the roles and mechanisms of ethylene and light signal transduction particularly as they relate to fruit maturation.  An example of recent results is data suggesting that light signal transduction genes may be useful targets for manipulation of fruit antioxidant nutrient quality.    The laboratory is also part of a large NSF-funded tomato genomics consortium including Steve Tanksley of Cornell and Greg Martin and Joyce VanEck of BTI.  This consortium has developed many of the tools used by researchers around the world in genomics analyses of tomato and the Solanaceae family and the consortium is currently developing many of the components that support the recently initiated international tomato genome sequencing effort.

Last Modified: 3/25/2008
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