FUNDING TO IMPROVE CITRUS PRODUCTION AND HEALTH

UCR Geneticists to Develop Tool for Genotyping Citrus

To address exotic diseases like HLB, breeders need sophisticated tools that rapidly characterize citrus varieties and hybrids and locate genes for disease resistance, fruit quality, and other essential traits.
Mikeal Roose is a professor of genetics 
and the chair of the Department of
Botany and Plant Sciences at UCR.  
 Photo credit: L. Duka



Two plant geneticists at the University of California, Riverside have received a $450,000 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a genetic tool that citrus breeders can use to improve the efficiency with which citrus varieties are bred.

Mikeal Roose and Timothy Close, both professors of genetics and the principal investigator and co-principal investigator, respectively, of the two-year grant, will lead the project on developing a “high-density SNP genotyping array” for citrus — an important tool that geneticists and molecular breeders use to do genetic analyses of animals and plants.
“We will use this tool to study essentially all trees in our Citrus Variety Collection and several large citrus families in which individuals vary for traits of economic importance,” said Roose, chair of the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. 
“A valuable outcome of this project will be a comprehensive understanding of relationships among citrus varieties and how these relate to economically valuable characters,” Roose said.
Timothy Close is a professor of genetics at
UC Riverside. Photo credit: I. Pittalwala
UC Riverside has a long tradition in citrus research, with a major focus on citrus production and development of new varieties. Used extensively to solve citrus disease problems and improve commercial varieties, the university’s Citrus Variety Collection is one of the world’s most diverse living collections of citrus and related types with approximately 1,000 different varieties (including mandarins, blood oranges, navel oranges, citrons, clementines, tangos, grapefruit, Valencia oranges, and pummelos).


In total, NIFA announced nearly $9 million in grants for research into issues affecting plant breeding and production, leading to improvements in plants that are critical to the sustainability and competitiveness of American agriculture. 
Other California research institutions receiving the grants are: University of California, Davis, $900,000, and USDA Agricultural Research Service, Albany, $500,000.
The awards were made under the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Foundational Program priority area of plant breeding for agricultural production.
Source: Iqbal Pittalwala of UC Riverside

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