DuPont Pioneer Travel Scholarships

Congratulations to our recipients: 

 
 
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Heather Rose Kates

Florida

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Derek Barchenger

New Mexico State

Pablo Gonzalez Barrios

Wisconsin

 
 

Three scholarships were awarded to fund graduate students from other universities to attend the 2017 Texas A&M Plant Breeding Symposium: The Vavilov Method: Utilizing Genetic Diversity. Scholarship recipients are required to present their personal research by sharing a 15 minute oral presentation to Texas A&M graduate students on Wednesday, February 15. 

This new program was created to foster interaction between graduate students studying plant breeding at Texas A&M and students studying plant breeding at other institutions. The program will encourage information-exchange on research ideas and promote networking among students at the symposium. The scholarship is administered by the symposium organizing committee and is fully funded by DuPont Pioneer

 

Heather KAtes

Heather KAtes

Heather Rose Kates

Ph.D. Student, Genetics and Genomics

University of Florida

Bio: Heather Rose Kates is a Ph.D. candidate in Genetics & Genomics at the University of Florida and works in the Molecular Systematics and Evolutionary Genetics Laboratory of Drs. Pamela and Doug Soltis at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville, FL. Heather's interest in the intersection of basic research, botany, and science literacy led her to study the evolution and genetic diversity of wild and domesticated pumpkins and squashes (Cucurbita) for her Ph.D. research. In the future, Heather hopes to continue using innovative wet-lab and bioinformatics methods to answer questions that encourage collaboration among botanists and plant breeders and increase public understanding of how evolution and genetics influence food production. She earned her BA in biology from Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH.

Determining genetic relationships among all wild and domesticated pumpkin and squash (Cucurbita) species provides a framework for domestication-genomics studies in Cucurbita

Abstract: Domestication genomics studies compare the genomic content of crops and their diverse wild relatives to provide insight into the genetics underlying domestication and agronomically important traits. Phylogenetics provides the framework for these studies by resolving relationships between crops and their wild relatives, thereby identifying the closest wild relatives of cultivated plants. Pumpkins and squash (Cucurbita) were domesticated six times from independent wild relatives and are a unique system in which to study domestication processes and traits; however, previous phylogenetic studies of the Cucurbita crops and their wild relatives suggest histories of deep coalescence that complicate uncovering the genetic origins of the six crop taxa. We investigated the evolution of domesticated Cucurbita and their wild relatives using the most comprehensive and robust molecular-based phylogeny for Cucurbita to date based on 44 loci derived from introns of single-copy nuclear genes. We discovered novel relationships among Cucurbita species and recovered the first Cucurbita tree with well-supported resolution within species. Cucurbita comprises a clade of mesophytic annual species that includes all six crop taxa and a grade of xerophytic perennial species that represent the ancestral xerophytic habit of the genus. Relationships among individuals within crop-wild species pairs point to three patterns of crop evolution in domesticated Cucurbita, and we find closer relationships between diverse wild species and crops than previously identified. Our phylogeny clarifies how wild Cucurbita species are related to the domesticated taxa and provides a framework for domestication-genomics studies of Cucurbita crops. We present preliminary results from domestication-genomics studies for two of these crops.

 


Derek Barchenger

Derek Barchenger

Derek Barchenger

Ph.D. Student, Plant and Environmental Sciences

New Mexico State University

Bio: Derek Barchenger is a Ph.D. candidate working in the chile pepper breeding and genetics program in the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department at New Mexico State University. Derek’s dissertation research focuses on breeding for resistance to Phytophthora capsici, identifying the genetic mechanisms of fertility restoration, and developing a method to more efficiently produce breeder seed in chile pepper. As a result of his initial Ph.D. dissertation work, Derek received the U.S. Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Award, granting him a visiting fellowship at the World Vegetable Center in Taiwan to conduct research in disease resistance. For his M.S. research at the University of Arkansas, Derek evaluated the nutraceutical content and storage potential of muscadine grapes in the small fruit breeding program. Derek’s interest in genetics and plant improvement stems from his passion for eliminating food insecurity and increasing the sustainability of agriculture production. Derek’s career goals center upon educating the next generation of plant breeders, improving the lives of people, and developing more nutritious cultivars resistant to disease, pests, and environmental stresses.

Anticipatory Breeding for Phytophthora Blight Resistance in Chile Pepper

Abstract: Phytophthora capsici (Leon.) causes severe losses to chile pepper (Capsicum sp. L.) production worldwide. One major limitation to breeding for resistance to P. capsici, is the lack of a widely used race characterization system. Additionally, linkage drag associated with poor horticultural traits is often an issue with current sources of resistance. Our objective was to identify a more universal system o-f race characterization of P. capsici, as a basis for a global anticipatory breeding program in chile pepper. At the World Vegetable Center, we evaluated the usefulness of the New Mexico Recombinant Inbred Lines (NMRILs), derived from a hybridization between ‘Early Jalapeno’ and the landrace Criollo de Morelos-334. Collected in Mexico, Criollo de Morelos-334 had the highest level of resistance among hundreds of screened accessions. Between May and August of 2016, isolates were collected from chile pepper production regions in Taiwan. Using the NMRILs, 24 new races of P. capsici were found on the island. Additionally, the virulence varied by region, with isolates collected from the west coast being more virulent than those collected from the east coast. Virulence based on geography allows for development of locally resistant cultivars. The usefulness of the NMRILs to characterize races of P. capsici in Taiwan provides a global scale approach that will help plant breeders and pathologist limit losses due to Phytophthora blight.


Pablo Gonzalez Barrios

Pablo Gonzalez Barrios

Pablo Gonzalez Barrios

Ph.D. Student, Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Bio: Pablo Gonzalez Barrios is a first year of Ph.D. student in the Agronomy Department of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His major is Plant Breeding and Genetics Program working with Dr. Lucia Gutiérrez. Pablo is originally from Uruguay where he worked as a teaching/researcher assistant in the Statistics Department at the Agronomy College of the University of the Republic. He received his bachelor’s degree in Agronomy and his Masters in Biostatistics working in topics related to geostatistical tools applied in forest production systems of Uruguay. He is currently working with Dr. Gutierrez as research assistant in the development and implementation of genomic selection tools applied to small grains breeding programs. His research is focused on studying the phenomena of genotype by environment interaction through the more efficient use of environmental information. For example,  better characterization of the environmental effect through environmental covariates, incidence of diseases and interactions with soil conditions can be a useful tool to improve the predictive accuracy of the models. Furthermore, he is interested in evaluating the efficiency of multi-environmental trial networks in order to improve the efficiency of selection of superior cultivars in plant breeding programs.

Genomic Selection and Genotype by Environment Interaction in a Wheat Breeding Program Including Environmental Information

Abstract: The study of the genotype by environment interaction (GEI) is crucial when evaluating phenotypic performance in multi-environment trials. The inclusion of GEI information within genomic selection models has shown improvements in prediction accuracy and selection. Some environments are repeatable and predictable. However, year to year varieties are not predictable unless environments are characterized in repeatable components such as temperature, precipitation, solar radiation and other environmental covariates (EC). The objective of this work was to evaluate different strategies to model GEI by incorporating selected EC into prediction models. Information from the Uruguayan National Breeding Program was used. Yield performance of 74 elite lines evaluated in 19 years sowing-date combinations were used (2010-2014) and genotyped by sequencing. Daily weather information for temperature, relative humidity, radiation and rainfall was used. EC using the most relevant meteorological variables were calculated for each genotype, sowing date and year, for the physiological periods. Mixed models were used to predict by-environment (GBLUPgxe), using an equal environmental correlation with EC (Cov_gxe) and using and environmental correlation matrix with EC as fixed effect (Cov) for different sets of environments. Predictions were made for each year using information from the remaining years of evaluation. The prior selection of EC is useful at the time of improving the predictive ability of the models. In most years the Cov model showed significantly higher predictions accuracy. However, in 2010 there were no significant differences between strategies. The inclusion of EC improves the predictive ability of genomic prediction models in predictions by years.


 

Award Details:

 
 
WiscSymposium
  • $450 towards travel expenses
  • 2 nights of hotel accommodations (Feb 15 & 16)

  • Share your research via oral presentation