Plant Breeding, Genetics & Genomics
The strength of the Genetics Program Area has been in traditional, applied breeding programs to develop improved cultivars of forages, legumes, sugarcane and small grains. Forage and field crop scientists in the Department have released 28 crop cultivars since 1988. Breeding programs from the Agronomy Department contribute crop cultivars which dominate production acreage in areas of adaptation both within the U.S. and internationally. Recent accomplishments of the program include the release of many important cultivars: e.g., improved peanut (yield, disease resistance and oil quality), small grain (pest resistance) and forage crop (pest resistant clover, rust resistant ryegrass) cultivars. The contribution of these programs to the graduate study of plant breeding has also been a major strength. Molecular biology programs are now making significant contributions to the more traditional forage, peanut, and sugarcane breeding programs. A strong team approach is essential to development of multiple trait cultivars to serve our agricultural industry and to research value-added traits to increase the value of our commodities. It is imperative that an appropriate balance be maintained between whole plant and molecular genetics for both teaching and research programs.