Dr. Sara Montanari
Sara obtained her PhD in quantitative genetics and genomics of pear. She has studied pest and disease resistances in this crop, with a focus on fire blight and psylla. She has also worked on a particular type of genetic incompatibility, known as hybrid necrosis, which causes lethality in inter and infraspecific hybrids and is therefore of considerable importance for plant breeders.
Sara joined UC Davis in September 2015 as a Post Doctoral Scholar and she is mainly engaged in the Pear Genomics Project (http://dendrome.ucdavis.edu/NealeLab/pgp/).
Her research focus is on quantitative genetics and genomics, plant breeding and marker-assisted-selection in fruit tree crops. In particular, she is interested in studying the existing diversity of pear to unravel the genetic architecture of important phenotypic traits and understand the underlying biological mechanisms, elucidate the evolutionary history of this ancient crop and develop genetics tools, such as genotyping array, to be used by pear scientists and breeders. The final purpose of her line of research is the enhancement of marker-assisted selection in pear, aimed at the development of new high quality cultivars with improved agronomic characteristics, such as resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses, and dwarfing rootstocks.
Dr. David Neale
University of California Department of Plant Sciences
David is bringing his considerable expertise in the field of tree genomics and breeding to the effort in pear, and is also involved in walnuts.
David’s research history has been in the discovery and understanding of function of genes in forest trees, especially those controlling complex traits, through genetic mapping and genomic science technologies. In the very near future, nearly all the genes in pine will have been cloned and their DNA sequences determined. The cloned genes will serve as tools for functional analysis which will lead to understanding of complex patterns of coordinated expression of genes leading to phenotype. Focus has been on traits of practical value such as wood quality, growth, and disease resistance studies are expanding to identify genes determining patterns of adaptation and response to environmental stresses.
Dr. Nahla Bassil
USDA-ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository, Corvallis, Oregon
Nahla will be involved in the resequencing of the NCGR collection being undertaken by the team.
Nahla specializes in cultivar identification using new marker technology, including comparing the identity of genotypes of world genebanks. Developing genomic infrastructure for discovering valuable markers linked to traits of economic importance, and using linkage maps and QTL association for the development of marker-based tests for germplasm characterization traits of crops in the NCGR collection. Nahla will be involved in the resequencing of the NCGR collection being undertaken by the team.
Dr. Amit Dhingra
Amit has been deeply involved in the effort to forward the West Coast pear industry since joining WSU in 2006, and has taken the lead in developing the pear white paper. Amit’s group has sequenced and released the double haploid European pear genome that will serve as one of the references for the resequencing project.
Amit’s applied research program is centered on using physiology and phenomics-guided "-omics" (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics) investigations to identify genes underlying economically important traits in horticultural and specialty crops. Further, as candidate genes are discovered, reverse and forward genetics approaches are used to confirm gene-trait relationships. The information generated from this approach can be practically utilized in developing physiological and chemical-based solutions for existing varieties and new varieties can be developed through accelerated plant breeding and biotechnology approaches. Amit's research group has sequenced and released the double haploid European pear genome that will serve as one of the references for the resequencing project.
Research Molecular Biologist
Tree Fruit Research Laboratory, USDA-ARS
My lab leverages genome scale data combined with high-resolution sampling in an experimental framework to improve post harvest fruit quality. This includes utilizing molecular, bioinformatic, horticultural, and physiological methods to characterize fruit storage disorders and translate these findings into enhanced fruit breeding, production, storage, and marketing practices.