Univ Florida - USA
Fred G. Gmitter Jr. is a University of Florida (UF) Research Foundation Professor who works in citrus genetics, genomics and breeding at the UF Citrus Research and Education Center, in Lake Alfred, Florida, USA. He received B.A. and M.S degrees from Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Florida. He has conducted research in citrus breeding and genetics for more than 30 years. He was among the first citrus scientists in the world to develop molecular marker-based linkage maps, and to identify markers to be used in selection for disease resistance. He is the leader of the International Citrus Genome Consortium (ICGC), which made the first citrus genome sequences from diploid sweet orange and a haploid of Clementine mandarin available to international researchers, in January 2011. The ICGC group published a paper in Nature/Biotechnology in May 2014 that used genome sequencing approaches to unravel the origins of some important citrus types, and to elucidate the role of interspecific admixture in domesticated citrus cultivars. He and his colleagues have been responsible for the development and release of 30 new citrus scion and rootstock cultivars in the last 7 years.
Summary of lecture
Citrus Genomics: The Path from the Past to the Superhighway of Future Genetic Improvement
Retrospection as an exercise can provide perspective, understanding, and appreciation for the current conditions, and it can predict future possibilities as well. This presentation will briefly review the evolution of genomic tools and resources over the past three decades, and discuss some of their contemporary applications in efforts to provide genetically improved citrus cultivars for the benefit of the world’s citrus industries, as well as for the human population that looks to citrus fruit and products as important foods nutritionally and aesthetically. In the past, citrus breeders and other scientists attempting to improve the scions and rootstocks used by industry have struggled for decades to do so in a timely and efficient manner. The difficulties faced arose as a consequence of very limited valid information on the genetic mechanisms and control of critical traits, reproductive biological barriers, and a lack of clear understanding of the true phylogenic and taxonomic relationships among the various types of citrus and their relatives. The development and utilization of affordable technologies to determine and exploit the sequences of citrus DNA and RNA, coupled with similar advances in proteomics and metabolomics, has opened up incredible new possibilities now and in the future. Examples will be presented and elaborated, including some that are related to better understanding of host-pathogen interactions potentially leading to development of very robust resistance to the citrus diseases currently decimating the world’s citrus industries, to defining and manipulating attributes of fruit quality that are important to consumers and to processors and which may lead to more desired and better products, and to the manipulation of specific characteristics or traits that may lead to the development of entirely new forms of citrus fruit and products. By looking back to better understand where we currently are in the centuries-old pathway of citrus genetic improvement, we can also begin to see the directions and possibilities that lie ahead.