My research integrates the powerful tools of genomics and bioinformatics with plant breeding. I work mainly with minor or specialty crops grown in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.
Mints are important specialty crops in Oregon and Washington. They are grown for their distilled oils, which are used in a wide variety of consumer products. Peppermint (Mentha xpiperita) is the highest-value mint crop, and cannot be traditionally bred because it is a sterile hexaploid (six genome copies). Black Mitcham peppermint, the most widely-grown cultivar, is highly susceptible to Verticillium wilt, a fungal disease caused by Verticillium dahliae. Working with wild mint species that have resistance to this disease, I am identifying genes and associated markers for wilt resistance.