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Jason Londo

Research Geneticist (Plants)


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Grape Genetics Research Unit
USDA, ARS
630 W. North St., Geneva, NY  14456
315 787 2463 (office)
315 787 2330 (Fax)

Overview

I am a Research Geneticist with the USDA-ARS Grape Genetics Unit, located on the New York State Agriculture Experiment Station in Geneva, New York.  My interests and research program are centered on understanding the genetic and phenotypic aspects of environmental stress tolerance and adaptation. 

Grapevines are cultivated on all of Earth's continents except Antarctica, requiring adaptation to a great diversity of climates.  In New York and the Midwest, cold midwinter temperatures and early spring frosts can damage and kill both grapevine trunk and bud tissue, resulting in loss of productivity in the following growing season.  While cold stress can impact viticulture in the West (e.g. California, Oregon and Washington), drought, salinity, and increasing temperatures tend to play a greater role in reducing grapevine harvests.  As a result of changing and variable climate stresses in traditional grape growing regions, and increased cultivation in more marginal climates, grapevine breeders often attempt to improve grapevine germplasm by breeding the cultivated species of grapevine, Vitis vinifera, with other wild grapevine species.  By drawing on the natural adaptations to challenging climactic conditions that wild species have acquired, new varieties of grapevine can be utilized to face future environmental stresses.  Research in my laboratory is focused on uncovering the physiological and genetic mechanisms that contribute to environmental stress tolerance.  I use experiments designed to examine the genetic differences in traits that contribute to dehydration tolerance, important in surviving low midwinter temperatures, as well as surviving conditions of drought.  The current focus of my research is on understanding the mechanisms that different grapevine species (Vitis sp.) utilize for surviving cold stress.  Specifically, I am interested in understanding how dormant buds survive periods of extreme cold (> -30) during midwinter, as well as survival of growing tissues after sudden spring frosts.  Additionally, studies evaluating and characterizing the physiological mechanisms used by cultivated and wild species of grapevine to survive cold and drought stress are underway.  The goal of this research is to better inform grapevine breeders and farmers about the biological aspects of environmental stress tolerance and aid in the pursuit and utilization of new varieties capable of adapting to environmental stresses in a changing world. 

Education

Professional Experience