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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Jon Suzuki

Research Molecular Biologist

Jon Y. SuzukiContact Information

Daniel K. Inouye U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center
64 Nowelo St.
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Ph: (808) 959-4311
Fax: (808) 959-5470



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  • Ph.D., Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Indiana University, 1994
  • B.A., Biology, Washington University in St. Louis, 1984


Academic Positions

  • 2009-Current, Research Molecular Biologist, USDA ARS DKI U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center, Hilo, HI
  • 2004-2009, Postdoctoral Researcher, Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii, USDA ARS DKI, U.S. PBARC
  • 1997-2004, Postdoctoral Researcher, Rutgers, Waksman Institute, The State University of New Jersey
  • 1994-1997, Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Gene Research, Nagoya, Japan



My ongoing research is aimed at advancing, improving and promoting agriculture. Current research efforts are focused on the development of molecular, genetic and germplasm resources and the implementation and use of resulting tools and information towards improvement of tropical/subtropical fruit and ornamentals, their production and access for Hawaii and U.S. agriculture, the greater Pacific Basin and beyond.


Current Major Projects

Tropical ornamental plant research

Genome size assessment, transcriptome, floral pigment and chloroplast DNA analyses are among the various resources recently developed for Anthurium, an important tropical ornamental cut flower and potted plant. The previously unavailable resources enable molecular and biochemical characterization of germplasm in collections and hypothesis driven research for the identification of genes for horticulturally and ornamentally important traits, novel genetic elements and the development of improved cultivars. In collaboration with ARS plant scientists, research efforts include development of commercial Anthurium cultivars with novel pathogen resistance or ornamental traits. In partnership with USDA ARS and University partners, research has been initiated to safeguard heritage cultivars and breeding stocks to meet changing and future industry needs.


Tropical fruit research

Rainbow papaya, the first commercial transgenic tree fruit crop was introduced to growers in 1998. Its introduction saved the Hawaiian papaya industry from devastation caused by Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) and today represents >80% of Hawaii’s total papaya planted acreage. Research in the area of biosafety and molecular characterization of Rainbow papaya contributed to import approval by Japan in 2011, a pioneering and new fresh fruit foreign market after Canada for this U.S. specialty crop. Current research continues with molecular characterization of papaya including work on improving coverage of the papaya draft genome and development of new cultivars with broader and improved pathogen resistance.


Service, Leadership and Participation in Professional Activities

  • American Society of Plant Biologists
  • Japan Society of Plant Physiologists
  • Affiliate faculty in the Tropical Conservation Biology and Evolutionary Studies program, University of Hawaii at Hilo
  • Affiliate faculty in the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa


Honors, Awards, Achievements and Recognition

  • U.S. National Science Foundation-Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship 1994-1996, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.

Last Modified: 1/5/2017
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