I am a tomato breeder working, currently focused on transfer of resistances to biotic stresses, to reduce damage/loss of crop, while reducing use of fungicides, copper sprays, and pesticides. This allies with the development of IPM, of sustainable agriculture and of use of biological controls.
I am a tomato breeder working, currently focused on transfer of resistances to biotic stresses, to reduce damage/loss of crop, while reducing use of fungicides, copper sprays, and pesticides. This allies with the development of IPM, of sustainable agriculture and of use of biological controls. My research projects concern the genetic control of novel traits derived from wild tomato species and their transfer to cultivated tomato. Primary research focuses on issues that limit cultivar quality and production, such as critical diseases and insect pests and the virus they transmit.
One projects underway focuses on bacterial and fungal diseases critical to NE and NE US. The diseases late blight (caused by Phytophthora infestans), early blight (caused by Alternaria tomatophila), and Septoria leaf spot, each of which cause defoliation and loss of yield and fruit quality in temperate tomato growing regions, Transfer genetic resistances to each of these created tomato lines now being used by seed companies selling blight resistant hybrids that have reduced risk of loss due to these diseases, allowing up to 75% reduction in fungicide use in conventional tomato, and reductions of copper sprays in organic tomato, creating a more sustainable system for control of foliar fungal disease in tomato production. When current work adding additional early blight resistance and resistances to bacterial diseases is completed, the improved lines will further reduce need for fungal and/or copper sprays.
The other project underway focuses on a range of insect pests, and insect transmitted virus, which are serious in southern US and tropical/semitropical regions, and are moving northward due to climate change. The insect/virus control project has examined the genetic control of acylsugar-mediated multiple insect resistance in tomato, created a series of sister lines of tomato that produce different levels or different chemical forms of acylsugars, and interacts with entomologists/pant pathologists in US and abroad to determine the range and efficacy of these tomato lines across insects species and the virus they transmit. As the work to rehine the horticultural type of the lines is progressing, the project is also interacting with seed companies which are interested in utilizing this trait in new hybrids.
Outreach and Extension Focus
The extension and outreach aspect of my work are largely associated with my research in tomato and onion breeding. For the tomato program I interact with global seed companies and an international research center overseas, international tomato processing companies, tomato growers and processor groups in other states, and organic tomato growers in NYS. The onion program interacts frequently with NYS onion growers, as well as onion seed companies.
Each year I make several presentations to grower or industry groups. Summer presentations involve use of the trials and field plots grown for the tomato program that are grown on university land, and through cooperative research with extension faculty (long island) and staff, some plots are on land donated by participating host growers. Due to these presentations, and interaction with host growers during each season, I have current association tomato growers, and I respond to periodic requests or questions.
Each year I usually make a presentations to extension personnel during in service sessions, I also make 2 or 3 presentations to seed company representatives at organized Field Days. I also have met with organic grower groups to present information on new cultivars and traits of potential use.
Since seed companies are using lines we have released, as well as molecular markers and techniques developed, I also interact with seed companies to assist them in using the materials, and training company staff in new techniques.
As a cooperator on an inter-university project on acylsugar mediated insect resistance, I am assisting in outreach, providing basic researchers information regarding tomato cultivars, traits and production that help refine their projects, and give guidance regarding how basic information generated by the project could be utilized for applied benefit
I am currently not responsible for a course, but I give guest lectures in several courses, and participate in on campus events bringing targeted groups of high school students (underrepresented minority, lower income, etc) to campus.
Awards and Honors
- 2011 grant recipient () Atlantic Seed Association
- inductee, Science Hall of Fame (2020) St John Fisher College, Rochester, NY
- Keynote speaker: 9th ISHS Symposium on Processing Tomato (2004) International Society for Horticultural Science
- Keynote speaker: IV International Symposium on Edible Alliaceae (2004) International Society for Horticultural Science
Presentations and Activities
- Development and Use of Cultivars with Resistance or Tolerances to Late Blight, Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot. 2013 Vegetable EXPO. January 2013. Syracuse, NY.