W.Va. State Scientist Part of National Team Studying Disease Resistance in Crops

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
(304) 766-3363
Oct. 9, 2015
W.Va. State Scientist Part of National Team Studying Disease Resistance in Crops
INSTITUTE, W.Va. -- A West Virginia State University (WVSU) researcher is part of a national team of 20 scientists awarded a $6.5 million grant to accelerate the development of disease-resistant crops using applied genomics. The funds were awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Genomics, a discipline of genetics that applies DNA sequencing methods, has proven a cost-effective solution for developing disease resistance in crops. WVSU researchers, led by Biology Professor Dr. Umesh K. Reddy, have been using genomic methods to study disease resistance in crops for years. Reddy serves as a co-Principle Investigator on the collaborative project.

“Scientists across the country will carry out disease screening in various crops such as watermelon, melon, squash and cucumber,” Reddy said. “They will send me the responses to various diseases for analysis.”

Reddy has developed a pipeline to associate DNA sequencing data with the disease responses that will help to identify the genes most important to disease resistance. Using this information, scientists can identify the genes responsible for causing resistance to disease.

In the long run, such research will help to reduce disease in crops, which has been identified by producers as a significant factor in reduced yield, quality and profitability.

Led by Michigan State University, other institutions involved in the research include Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University, Texas A&M University, North Carolina State University, University of Georgia, University of Puerto Rico, University of Wisconsin and USDA Agricultural Research Service.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multigenerational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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