Plant Genetics

Harkamal Walia

Unfavorable environmental conditions such as drought, high temperature stress, salinity, and flooding result in heavy crop yield losses in the U.S. and worldwide. These stressful conditions are increasingly associated with a shift in agriculture to marginal lands, inherent uncertainty associated with extreme precipitation events and spikes in temperatures especially during yield sensitive developmental stages of crops. Dr. Walia’s research interest is in understanding how plants adapt to these environmental stresses. I am particularly interested in the physiological and genetic characterization of crop responses to drought, heat and salt stress.

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David Hyten portrait

David Hyten
  • Haskins Professor in Plant Genetics and Associate Professor, Soybean Genetics/Genomics

The Hyten lab is focused on taking basic genetic and genomic discoveries in soybean and translating those discoveries into applied methods that can be used for the real-world improvement of soybean varieties. The program focuses specifically on improving agronomically important traits such as drought tolerance and response to water abundance.

As we experience climate change, making cultivars able to withstand drought and highly responsive to water abundance will be key to feeding the world. The Hyten lab is working towards understanding the underlying genetic diversity that leads to drought tolerance so that we can link genetic diversity to this agronomically important phenotype and understand how genetic diversity interacts across the diverse environments encountered across Nebraska and the rest of the United States.

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Tom Clemente portrait

Tom Clemente

The Clemente laboratory is a state-of the-art plant transformation facility that targets the introduction of genetic variation for novel input and output traits in the major commodity crops pertinent to the state of Nebraska, including maize, sorghum, soybean and wheat. The research expertise our program brings to the Nebraska Food for Health Center complements the Center’s transdisciplinary research activities by providing the wherewithal to optimize levels of identified macro and/or micro molecules in foods by genetic modification leading to value added seed traits.

Featured Publications

Peña, P.A,. T Quach, S. Sato, Z. Ge, N. Nersesian, T. Changa, I. Dweikat, M. Soundararajan, and T. E. Clemente. 2017. Expression of the maize Dof1 transcription factor in wheat and sorghum. Front. Plant Sci. 8:434. Doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00434


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James Schnable portrait

James Schnable

James Schnable's research group at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln works on developing new methods to combine information from corn, sorghum, and related orphan crops and wild species to identify genetic changes that alter crop traits important to farmers and food traits important to consumers. Working closely with computer scientists, statisticians, engineers, and applied plant breeders his research group develops new quantitative genetic and high throughput phenotyping techniques to analyze novel types of data, including high throughput RGB and hyperspectral imagery collected from plants on a daily basis and parallel genome wide association studies in corn, sorghum and foxtail millet. As part of the Nebraska Food for Health Center, he is working to identify genes in corn and sorghum that alter the biochemical composition of these foods and produce different perturbations of the human gut microbiome when consumed.

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