Plant Breeding at USDA-ARS: Outstanding in the Field

Symposium from Breeding Insight

Breeding Insight is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) initiative hosted at Cornell University. Breeding Insight aims to level the playing field in the genomics era, creating new opportunities for specialty breeders in assimilating tools, technologies, and methods to catalyze the routine and accessible use of genomic insights. We integrate phenomics (trait analysis), genomics (genotypic data), data management, and software tools to help breeders increase the rate of genetic gain and create more healthy, nutritious, and sustainable specialty crops and animals.

Symposium Location: Cornell Vet School Lecture Hall 5

Date: Tuesday, June 27 from 9 a.m. to noon.


9:00 a.m.: Keynote: “TBD,” by Amanda Hulse-Kemp9:40 a.m.: “Picturing Pecans: Detecting and Predicting Pecan Tree Characteristics” – Warren Chatwin10:05 a.m.: “Using DeltaBreed to Manage Phenotype Complexity in Hemp” – Tyler Gordon 10:55 a.m.: “Accelerating Blueberry Breeding by Combining Genomic and Phenomics Tools” – Ebrahiem Babiker 11:10 a.m.: “Breeding Insight Platform Provides the Opportunity to Break Alfalfa Yield Bottleneck” – Zhanyou Xu 11:35 a.m.: “Shortening the Breeding Cycle: Genetic Covariance Among Ratoon Crops in Sugarcane” – Keo Corak About the Speakers:

Dr. Warren Chatwin is the Research Geneticist leading the USDA-ARS Pecan Breeding & Genetics Program in College Station, Texas. Traditional pecan breeding practices take around 28.3 years to breed and evaluate a pecan for a cultivar release. My work is focused on transitioning pecan breeding to incorporate technologies like image-based phenotyping and high-throughput genotyping to increase the efficiency and accuracy of selection in breeding.

Dr. Tyler Gordon’s team is working to extensively characterize new hemp accessions that are being donated to the National Plant Germplasm System. He is evaluating accessions for architectural traits, secondary metabolite profiles, seed characteristics, and fiber quality. The information collected is being uploaded to GRIN-Global and used to inform crossing decisions between accessions with complementary priority traits.

Dr. Ebrahiem Babiker received his M.Sc. in plant breeding from the South Dakota State University, and Ph.D. in plant pathology from Washington State University. Prior to arriving at the USDA ARS Southern Horticultural Laboratory, he was a postdoc research plant pathologist with the USDA-ARS in Aberdeen, Idaho. At the Southern Horticultural Laboratory, he led a team of scientists, technicians, and collaborators in conducting research on genetics of small fruits and ornamental plants.

Dr. Zhanyou Xu recieved his Ph.D. in Plant Genetics and Breeding from China Agricultural University, and Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology from Iowa State University. Dr. Xu is the alfalfa breeder with USDA-ARS at St Paul, MN. His main research interests are applying genome-wide markers to increase biomass yield, quality, and root system architectures via gene editing, genomics, bioinformatics, and machine learning. His main breeding goal is to break the bottleneck of stagnant alfalfa yield.

Dr. Keo Corak is a postdoctoral fellow in the Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Unit and a species coordinator at Breeding Insight OnRamp. Their research interests include quantitative genetics, data mining and systems thinking.

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