Professor and Wickersham Chair of Excellence
Scientific Director – Institute for Plant Sciences
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907
TRANSLATIONAL GENOMICS FOR CROP IMPROVEMENT
Abstract: The modern plant breeder needs to understand how genes and environments interact to control the expression of phenotypes in crop cultivars. Advanced techniques in genome wide association and genetic linkage studies can provide insights into gene-phenotype relationships. This knowledge can provide the plant breeder with new strategies for trait development for crop improvement. My plant breeding program focuses on new trait development in maize and sorghum using native and induced genetic variation. We integrate allele replacement, mutation breeding, mutant-based reverse genetics, and functional genomics strategies for germplasm improvement. These approaches have contributed to the development of semi-dwarf popcorn hybrids with improved plant architecture, dhurrin-free forage and bioenergy sorghum varieties that eliminate the risk of HCN poisoning, grain sorghum germplasm with novel grain composition and end-use characteristics, and heat tolerant hybrid maize cultivars for South Asia.
Biography: Dr. Mitch Tuinstra is the Wickersham Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Research and Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics in the Department of Agronomy at Purdue University. He studies how crop plants grow in stressful environments. Although farmers have faced the challenges of droughts and heat waves for thousands of years, there is mounting concern that changes in our climate may hamper agricultural productivity in the United States and around the world. Dr. Tuinstra and his collaborators are responding to these concerns with efforts to develop “climate resilient” cultivars of maize and sorghum that will contribute to the adaptation of agriculture to warmer and drier environments. His research focuses on identifying genes and genetic resources that contribute to improved crop performance in stressful environments.