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International Darwin Day

“Evolving evolution: how have genomes, climates and man formed our food?”

4:30PM-5PM ISE Lab 315

Randall Wisser, Associate Professor of Plant and Soil Science

“Evolving evolution: how have genomes, climates and man formed our food?”

Abstract: Humans have radically transformed plants from species fit for survival in the wild into formula one crops fit to maximize the allocation of energy for mass production in managed environments. How did this happen? Studies on domestication, adaptation and population improvement reveal key insights into the evolution of crop species. These insights along with transformative technologies of genome science are enabling the prediction of unobserved phenotypes. Still, there is much that remains to be understood, and current trends in plant science are bringing the role of the environment into focus. Through a Dr. Wisser five-year grant from USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), Dr. Wisser teamed up with researchers from universities in Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, and Texas. Together, they are combining genome science with field studies of tropical corn varieties and breaking new ground on the genetic barriers that hinder crop adaptation in the United States. Bio: Dr. Randy J. Wisser received his B.S. in Biological Sciences while studying fungal biology at Florida International University, Miami; this was followed by a stint as a USDA-ARS research technician in Miami, FL where he characterized molecular genetic diversity of sub/tropical crop species, including chocolate! He then earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University followed by a postdoctoral position in quantitative plant genetics and pathology at North Carolina State University. He is currently an Associate Professor in Plant and Soil Sciences at UD. His work is centered on understanding the genetics of naturally-occurring variation in environmental adaptation and host resistance.

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International Darwin Day
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