Location: Sunflower and Plant Biology ResearchTitle: Chao-Chien Jan: Thirty-five years of dedicated research utilizing wild sunflower crop relatives for sunflower improvement
Submitted to: Helia
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/13/2018
Publication Date: 4/28/2018
Citation: Seiler, G.J. 2018. Chao-Chien Jan: Thirty-five years of dedicated research utilizing wild sunflower crop relatives for sunflower improvement. Helia. 41(68): 1-22. https://doi.org/10.1515/helia-2018-0005.
Interpretive Summary: Dr. Chao-Chien Jan, a Research Geneticist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Sunflower and Plant Biology Research Unit, Fargo, ND, retired January, 2017, after 35 years of dedicated research directed toward improving cultivated sunflower. His research contributed significantly to the ability of the sunflower industry to utilize the genetic diversity of 53 species of wild sunflowers, especially the perennial species, in the area of cytogenetics and pre-breeding. His early pioneering research led to development of embryo rescue techniques for overcoming embryo abortion and chromosome doubling to increase fertility of interspecific hybrids, which opened a whole new world of opportunities for improving the sunflower crop. This led to his global stature with invitations as a visiting scientist and fellowships in Australia, Serbia, Spain, Romania, and China. Dr. Jan also served as a mentor for many students and visiting scientists who trained in his laboratory over the years, several of whom have become global leaders in the sunflower industry. In 2012, he was presented the prestigious Pustovoit Award, the highest award in the sunflower industry given by the International Sunflower Association for his contribution to sunflower science and technology. Dr. Jan’s lasting legacy will be the genetic resources that he has developed to combat emerging pests and environmental challenges, which will enable sunflower to remain an economically viable global crop well into the future.
Technical Abstract: Dr. Chao-Chien Jan, Research Geneticist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Sunflower and Plant Biology Research Unit, Fargo, ND, retired January, 2017, after 35 years of dedicated service. He began his research career in 1974 after receiving his Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California, Davis, CA, working with wheat. He was a postdoctoral Research Biologist at the Cancer Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco in 1975. From 1976 to 1981 he was a postdoctoral Research Agronomist, Department of Agronomy and Range Science, UC, Davis, CA. working on wheat. In 1981, Dr. Jan joined the USDA-ARS as a Research Geneticist at the Rice and Oilseed Unit at Davis, CA, with an emphasis on cytogenetics, working on sunflower (Helianthus annuus) crop wild relatives (CWR) for the improvement of the sunflower crop. The sunflower program at Davis, CA, was closed in 1984, and he was transferred to the USDA-ARS Sunflower Unit in Fargo, ND, where he spent the rest of his career working on sunflower CWR. Dr. Jan’ research contributed significantly to the ability to utilize the genetic diversity of the 53 species of wild sunflowers, especially in the areas of germination, use of embryo culture and chromosome doubling to overcome embryo abortion and fertility problems. His pioneering research in interspecific hybridization, cytoplasmic male sterility and fertility restoration, cytogenetic stocks, disease resistance and mutation opened doors to genetic diversity never before available for utilization by the sunflower industry. This led to his global stature with invitations to serve as a visiting scientist and fellowships in Australia, Serbia, Spain, Romania, and China. He has hosted over 20 scientists from 15 countries, as well as countless students during his career. Due to his stature, he has been invited to present several invited plenary talks, both national and international, and in 2012 he was presented the prestigious Pustovoit Award, the highest award in the sunflower industry given by the International Sunflower Association for his contribution to sunflower science and technology.