Crop environmental stress resilience
With erratic weather events and land use efficiency issues, we need crops that are resilient to diverse environmental stress. Cultivated crops have been artificially bred for centuries for increased yield and quality traits, but in doing this, their genetic diversity has been limited, making them more susceptible to weather and pathogen pressures. Crop wild relatives, on the other hand, have gone through natural selection to survive in their changing environments. By using comparative and functional genomic techniques, the Gschwend Lab identifies genetic variation that provides crops and their wild relatives with resilience to our changing climate. The research goals of my lab are to identify genes that underlie traits that provide resilience to abiotic and biotic stress in crops and their wild relatives and integrate these genes into cultivated varieties for crop improvement.