College of Food, Ag & Nat Res Sci
One of the primary themes of research in the Morrell Lab is to determine how deleterious variants, a ubiquitous feature of the variation in every organism, impact yield and productivity in crop species. In particular, the group is focused on the effects of deleterious variants in inbreeding species, where cultivars are grown as inbred lines and thus deleterious variants are not offset by heterosis in hybrids. Specifically they seek to address three objectives that can be summarized as three issues:
- Determine how the processes of domestication and improvement have impacted the relative proportion of deleterious variants in wild barley, barley landraces, and elite cultivars
- Determine the extent to which selection for favorable mutations increased the frequency of linked deleterious mutations during domestication and improvement
- Design genomic selection approaches that test the potential of "reverse genomic selection" based on deleterious mutations to supplement genomic selection based on phenotypic prediction
The lab has multiple projects relating to legume genomics. These focus on garden pea as a plant-based protein source; cowpea, which is a drought-resistant crop important to the developing world; and the mutational impacts of various biotechnology approaches as applied to soybean.
This research was featured on the MSI website in March 2015: New Data Storage Option for MSI Researchers.