January 24, 2021

Cornell University. Small Grains Breeding Program

Our basic research projects are primarily focused on genomic selection methods, association analyses, and comparative genomics. We use sequence and map-based tools for comparison of genes and genomes across species and genera. Elucidation of structure-function relationships of genes and genomes is more efficient in model species and efficient methods of transferring that information to other species are vitally important for crop species with large, complex genomes such as wheat. We also use trait dissection, integration of information about metabolic pathways, gene expression, and chromosome location to facilitate the rational selection of candidate genes. Allelic diversity experiments are employed to facilitate the identification of superior alleles for genes of economic importance so that they can be assembled in superior crop varieties.
The more applied goals of our program are to:

  1. develop, evaluate, and introduce new cultivars and germplasm of small grains having improved yield, nutritional quality, disease resistance, and other characteristics that increase the crop value and production efficiency
  2. develop and evaluate novel breeding strategies for crop improvement
  3. elucidate the inheritance of agronomic plant characters, the gene expression controlling these characters, and their correlations with other traits.
    A regional variety testing program is conducted annually for wheat, oats, and barley.

For more information see

Mark E. Sorrells