Department of Plant Biology
Robert Pyne is a PhD candidate in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology at Rutgers University with a focus in plant breeding and genomics. The overarching aim of Robert’s research is the improvement of non-model plant species using reverse genetics combined modern genomic tools. His dissertation work seeks to improve understanding of the genetics controlling abiotic and biotic traits including downy mildew (Peronospora belbahrii), Fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum) and aromatic volatiles in basil (Ocimum spp.). Using novel genotyping and robust phenotyping approaches, Robert works to address population structure, genetic diversity, trait heritability, linkage mapping and QTL identification. Utility of this research for crop improvement is now being realized through the development of stable, downy mildew resistant sweet basil breeding lines with the aroma/flavor expected by consumers, processors and industry.
Funding for Robert’s research, under PI Dr. Simon mentorship, include USDA-SCRI, USDA-NIFA, BiNational Agricultural Research & Development (BARD). Additional funding provided by SARE for recent work with hops (Humulus spp.).