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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Staff and Projects
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Individual research project scientists, titles, durations, and objectives for the Plant Genetics Research Unit, Columbia, MO, include:


Bruce E. Hibbard, Lead Scientist

Plant Resistance, Biology, and Resistance Management of Insect Pests of Corn

6/03/2005 to 6/02/2010


Develop and release corn germplasm with native resistance to major corn insect pests and dissect genetic and chemical mechanisms of resistance. Investigate the biology, pest/host interactions, and chemical ecology of major corn insect pests, especially as they relate to resistance management.


Jan A. Miernyk, Lead Scientist; Hari B. Krishnan, and Kristin D. Bilyeu

Modification of Soybean Seed Composition for Food, Feed, and Other Industrial Uses

3/20/2006 to 3/19/2011


The long-term goal of this Objective is to develop soybean seeds that have increased oil levels derived at the expense of non-structural carbohydrates. Molecular biology techniques will be used to improve the nutritional quality of soybean seed proteins. To develop the molecular basis for modification of the fatty acid components of soybean oil and anti-nutritional components in soybean meal to use in accelerated breeding programs. Identify effects on key performance determinants of crop seed quality resulting from modified seed composition using traditional or non-traditional genetic methods.


Melvin J. Oliver, Lead Scientist; and Ivan Baxter.

(Located at the DonaldDanforthPlantScienceCenter. St Louis, MO)

Genetic Enhancement of Soybean Seed Value by Biotechnology

05/06/06 to 05/05/11


This project is designed to: 1.  Develop soybeans with altered seed coat color to facilitate the segregation and identity preservation of seeds with genetically enhanced compositional traits. 2. To produce soybeans with enhanced food, feed, and industrial properties by modification of the oil and lipid-soluble antioxidant composition of seeds. To introduce genes into soybeans that result in high-level accumulation of foreign and engineered proteins valuable for food, feed, and industrial uses. 3. To develop procedures and methods for analyzing and predicting seed protein allergenicity in food and feed. 4. To develop non-allergenic seeds by suppressing intrinsic allergens and to modify proteins that are potential transgenes for improving biosafety.


Melvin J. Oliver, Lead Scientist; and Yong-Qiang An.

(Located at the DonaldDanforthPlantScienceCenter. St Louis, MO)

Functional Genomics for Identification of Soybean Quality Trait Genes.

8/31/08 to 9/01/11


The long-term goal of this project is to identify key structural and regulatory genes that impact soybean seed quality traits. 1) Use a functional genomics approach to identify structural and regulatory genes that affect the quality or nutritional content of soybeans; and 2) determine regulatory processes that control gene expression for soybean quality.


Michael D. McMullen, Lead Scientist, Sherry Flint-Garcia, and Mel Oliver

Genetic mechanisms and molecular genetic resources for corn

2/28/2002 to 8/31/2006


Advance knowledge of corn biology by developing and enabling procedures for information-rich, high-throughput genetic analysis and comprehension. Determine the genetic mechanisms and identify key genes involved with regulation of metabolic pathways that control agronomic traits for corn. Develop and use genetic relatedness and association tests to classify corn germplasm and identify and test candidate genes for agronomic traits for corn.


J. Perry Gustafson, Lead Scientist

Genomic Characterization and Manipulation of Value-Added Traits from Rye for Utilization in Wheat Improvement.

05/10/08 to 05/09/13

A major goal of wheat improvement is to identify, isolate, and characterize genes and gene complexes that control value-added traits that can be introduced into commercial cultivars to improve production. Historically, once such gene complexes were identified and characterized they were manipulated into a hexaploid wheat background for improved production. Once the options for trait improvement genes in the available wheat germplasm were exhausted wheat geneticists turned to other members of the Triticeae tribe (cereals) as desirable genetic resources for trait exploitation. However, to date only a few gene complexes from non-wheat related species and genera have been characterized, manipulated and introduced into wheat. The lack of advancement in this area results from an undesirable linkage drag, resulting in low yields, that is associated with the transference of gene complexes from related species. This laboratory has developed methods for the efficient transferring of value-added gene complexes, without linkage drag, from rye into wheat for wheat improvement. This project will utilize these previously developed technologies of chromosomal centric-break and fusion translocations to transfer the value added traits of disease resistance and abiotic stress tolerance from rye and wheat-rye hybrids (triticales) to commercially useful hexaploid wheat cultivars. In particular the project will focus on 1. Identifying novel genetic elements associated with resistance to new strains of stem rust linked to rye chromosome 1R within local and world stock collections of triticales and spring ryes for transfer into hexaploid wheat, and 2. Identifying, characterizing and transferring novel genetic elements, regardless of chromosomal location, for resistance to stem and leaf rusts and tolerance to low pH and saline soils for transfer into hexaploid wheat. Objective 1: Develop, evaluate, and distribute wheat-rye aneuploid stocks. Objective 2: Use rye genes and gene complexes to improve stem and leaf rust resistance and abiotic stress tolerance in wheat. 

Last Modified: 8/13/2016
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