My laboratory is pursuing two areas of research. First, we have been developing a map-based strategy for cloning genes known only by phenotype. We recently cloned the Pto gene which confers a gene-for-gene resistance to the pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato. We are currently in the process of cloning 3 other disease resistance genes via this approach. We have also begun to try to use this strategy to clone genes for traits conditioned by multiple genes or quantitative trait loci (QTLs). This includes most traits of agricultural importance including yield, stress tolerance and nutritional quality.
The second area of research is the development of new breeding methodologies based on molecular genetics. Current plant breeding methods were developed in the pre-molecular biology era and are not designed to take advantage of the many recently developed tools from molecular genetics. One example of such a project is the use of molecular techniques to identify and transfer useful genes from wild plant species into new crop cultivars. Initial results from this project look very promising and we are hopeful that this approach can substantially increase world food production above its current projected levels.
I teach Plant Molecular Biology (PB and BS 653-3) and Laboratory in Plant Molecular Biology (BIO PL 641).
Additional Field memberships: Plant Biology, Genetics.
Ku H-M, Vision T, Liu J, Tanksley S (2000) Comparing Sequenced Segments of the Tomato and Arabidopsis Genomes: Large-Scale Duplication Followed by Selective Gene Loss Creates a Network of Synteny. PNAS 97:9121-9126.
Frary A, Nesbitt TC, Frary A, Grandillo S, van der Knaap E, Cong B, Liu J, Meller J, Elber R, Alpert K, Tanksley S (2000) Cloning and Transgenic Expression of fw2.2: a Quantitative Trait Locus Key to the Evolution of Tomato Fruit. Science 289:85-87.
Grandillo S, Ku H-M, Tanksley S (1999) Identifying loci responsible for natural variation in fruit size and shape in tomato. Theor Appl Genet 99:978-987.
Bernacchi and Steven D. Tanksley. 1997. An interspecific backcross of Lycopersicon esculentum x L. hirsutum: Linkage analysis and a QTL study of sexual compatibility factors and floral traits. Genetics 147:861-877.
Tanksley, Steven D. and Susan R. McCouch. 1997. Seed banks and molecular maps: unlocking genetic potential from the wild. Science 277:1063-1066. Tanksley, Steven D., Martin W. Ganal and Gregory B. Martin. 1995. Chromosome landing: a paradigm for map-based gene cloning in plants with large genomes. Trends in Genetics 11:63-68