Institute for Integrative Genome Biology

Focus Area: Agricultural Genomics

Agricultural Genomics

Improving Crops through Genomics Technology

“Agricultural Genomics” is defined as research and development activities that have clear potential to translate genomics technology into agronomic advancement. Research in Agricultural Genomics centers on innovative genomic applications that advance our understanding of plant biology and have demonstrative application to crop improvement. During the past decade, there has been a tremendous increase in genomic tools available in key crop plants, including expressed sequence tags (ESTs), bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) libraries and physical maps, genetic sequence polymorphisms, germplasm surveys, mutant collections and expression profiling resources. Whole genome sequences, well supported with genome annotations and information browsers to enable cross-genome comparisons, are now available for several reference plants, including dicots Arabidopsis, poplar and Medicago truncatula and monocots rice and sorghum. Genome sequencing is also advancing rapidly in soybean, maize and the model temperate grass Brachypodium distachyon, among others. This wealth of new genomic resources has caused a paradigm shift wherein researchers whose motivation is crop improvement no longer are constrained by model systems to address specific questions of biological interest and economic importance.

Barley Spikes

Barley Spikes. Image: Timothy Close
UCR Botany & Plant Sciences

Addressing Today's Agricultural Concerns

Agricultural Genomics addresses agricultural problems directly. National and international investments in fundamental genome resources have created the means to speed the improvement of plants - agronomic, horticultural, and forest tree species. This can now be accomplished by locating and characterizing agriculturally important forms of specific genes (alleles) and subsequent incorporation of these important alleles, usually through conventional plant breeding facilitated by molecular markers, into modern cultivars to improve performance. The development of new cultivars using genome resources continues and amplifies a decades-long worldwide plant breeding legacy of responding to needs for pest and disease resistance and tolerance to abiotic stresses, such as heat, drought, and cold. New marketplace needs and niches, such as a demand for crop plants specifically adapted for biofuel production, define the contemporary agronomic goals of Agricultural Genomics research. Solution of specific problems will help support efficient production of food, feed, and fiber while concurrently reducing the environmental impact associated with farming practices and manufacturing.

Cowpea Seeds

Cowpeas. Image: Jeff Ehlers
UCR Nematology

Mission of Agricultural Genomics Research at UCR

The ultimate goal of Agricultural Genomics research at the University of California, Riverside is to contribute knowledge about the biology of agriculturally important plant processes and traits, which can be used to develop plants with enhanced economic value and expanded utilities.

To meet these identified needs of agriculture, the long-term (10-year) goals for this program include:

  • increased fundamental knowledge of the structure, function and organization of crop plant genomes to improve agricultural efficiency and sustainability
  • effective integration of modern molecular breeding technologies and classical breeding practice for crop and turf improvement
  • improved varieties for agricultural growers and producers

UCR’s Agricultural Genomics activities are comprised mainly of three broad elements: 1) genome-enabled plant research to tackle major unanswered questions in crop plant biology on a genome-wide scale, 2) transferring the results of basic research on model systems to plants of economic importance, and 3) the improvement of tools and resources for crop plant genome research to fully deploy new genomic technologies into research on crop plants.

UC Riverside has regional and historical strengths in applied research on citrus and avocado, wheat, barley, cowpea and turfgrasses and significant ongoing research in several other crop plants. Agricultural Genomics research at UC Riverside encompasses not only crop plants but also organisms that interact with crop plants to impinge on plant production. This includes microbial pathogens and epiphytes, nematodes, insects and parasitic plants.

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Genomics Information

Institute of Integrative Genome Biology
2150 Batchelor Hall

Tel: (951) 827-7177
E-mail: Aurelia Espinoza, Managing Director