Vegetable Breeding / Plant Breeding
NC State University breeding programs are often the sole provider of cultivars for North Carolina farmers. The state also has one of the largest concentrations of public plant breeders in the world, with more than 35 core faculty being supported by a host of extension agents and graduate students.
Cultivar development programs focus on developing biotic stress resistant genes, such as insect pests, disease, heat tolerance, drought and freeze damage, novel fatty acids and proteins for novelty products, and higher yield. Genetic transformation technology is used by researchers for introgressing genes, such as drought and virus resistant genes, into elite germplasm and breeding populations.
All horticultural crops are susceptible to disease, insects and pests, so it is imperative to incorporate genetic resistance as an improvement strategy. Maintaining diversity of genes and germplasm pools is also necessary for providing sources of useful genes. Aside from developing cultivar strains with incorporated genetic resistance, researchers improve flavor, protein, starch, oil and other feature characteristics of horticultural and field crops.