The biotechnology and molecular genetics program focuses on understanding the life process and genetic controls of forest organisms as they relate to their environment. Researchers study how ecosystems react to environmental change: divergence in multispecies oak communities, bud break in woody perennials, drought response, low-nitrogen root development, and seasonal dormancy. They study historical, ecological, and population genetics to bridge the gap between ecological and genetic approaches. They use cuttings and tissue cultures to cultivate and sustain species like American chestnut and Chinese elm. They collaborate in interdepartmental work that furthers breakthroughs in microarray and RNA sequencing, plant-genomics, human-environmental sustainability science, and biodiversity conservation.
"In my laboratory, we use methods of molecular genetics and genomics to understand how trees grow, develop and interact with their environment. "
Collaborative Research: Plant Genotype-Phenotype (G2P) Association Discovery via Integrative Genome-scale Biological Network & Genome-Wide Association Analysis. National Science Foundation. 2015-18. PI: Wei H.
Development and application of EST-SSRs in the endangered species Quercus georgiana. The Morton Arboretum. 2015-2016. PI: Gailing O.
Identification of different ecotypes and centers of adaptive genetic diversity in American chestnut. The American Chestnut Foundation. 2014-2016. PIs: Gailing O, McCarthy B, Nelson D.