Research Geneticist (Plants)
Dr. Ebrahiem Babiker has been at USDA ARS TCSHL since 2017. He is developing improved germplasm for woody ornamental and small fruit crops adapted to the southeastern United States where the effects of both biotic and abiotic stresses are exacerbated by frequent weather extremes. In support of this long-term objective, he is integrating the principles of plant breeding, quantitative genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics to: (1) gain fundamental understanding of the genetic basis for key traits in blueberries and muscadine grapes; (2) develop molecular tools to speed-up the breeding cycle through marker assisted breeding and genomic selection; and (3) develop blueberry germplasm amenable to machine harvest with improved horticultural traits and adaptation to biotic and abiotic stresses. Through collaborative projects with universities in the region, Kyoto University, and the USDA ARS breeding insight platform, we are identifying genomic regions associated with fruit quality and phenology related traits. Further, we complement the traditional breeding program with genomics, and bioinformatics to develop a high-quality reference genome of evergreen blueberry (Vaccinium darrowii) to study functional gene expression.