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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research » Research » Research Project #434706

Research Project: Genetics, Epigenetics, Genomics, and Biotechnology for Fruit and Vegetable Quality

Location: Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research

Project Number: 8062-21000-047-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 22, 2018
End Date: Apr 25, 2023

Objective 1: Identify loci and functionally characterize underlying genes that contribute to fruit and vegetable shelf-life, appearance, flavor, texture, and nutritional quality by characterizing cultivated and wild species diversity so as to develop a better understanding of corresponding trait biology and to develop new molecular tools for breeding. (See uploaded postplan for sub-objectives) Objective 2: Generate genome-scale DNA sequence data, gene expression profiles, proteomic and metabolite data of fruit and vegetable crops for facilitating trait discovery and trait improvement. (See uploaded postplan for sub-objectives) Objective 3: Develop and test models for the regulation of fruit and vegetable development and quality traits at the genome level that incorporate epigenome dynamics and epigenetic regulators. (See uploaded postplan for sub-objectives) Objective 4: Develop and utilize new advanced analytical approaches to characterize fruit and vegetable proteins and chemical metabolites, their modifications and interactions, via targeted and genome-scale methodologies. (See uploaded postplan for sub-objectives) Objective 5: Develop, test, and thoroughly analyze at the whole genome level gene editing technologies in tomato for use in enhancing nutrient levels and shelf-life, and in selected high value crops for use in breeding and research. (See uploaded postplan for sub-objectives)

The overall approach of this project will be use of molecular, genetic and genomics approaches to address our objectives centered on advancing our understanding of fruit and vegetable quality and deploying said knowledge toward crop improvement. We will take advantage of existing germplasm in the form of mutant/variant lines and segregating populations and/or wild species introgression lines to identify genes underlying fruit and vegetable quality and nutritional content. Candidate genes will be isolated, sequenced, and characterized for gene expression attributes in addition to allelic variation that will be correlated with trait and/or metabolic outputs. Functional analyses will be undertaking for candidate quality and nutrition impacting genes through identification and development, respectively, of chemical/natural or transgenic mutations. In some instances, we will test potential for translation of insights from model and crop systems studies to additional crop and stable crop species. Better understanding of processes underlying fruit and vegetable quality will facilitate design of molecular strategies to improve crop quality attributes in both primary experimental crop systems and targets of translational biology. Through these undertakings, we will develop transgenic and gene edited lines to address gene function. We will further utilize said lines and additional lines developed as controls to assess the nature and degree of genome changes resulting from transformation or gene editing and the extent of possible biotechnological risk, if any.