Foundation Award for Research

Dr. Chin-Feng Hwang

Dr. Chin-Feng Hwang

Environmental Plant Science and Natural Resources
College of Agriculture

I. Focus of Research

My research focuses on the development of molecular genetic tools to expedite both grapevine and black walnut breeding efforts with the ultimate goal of producing improved cultivars. Developing cultivars with high fruit/nut quality, enhanced disease resistance and cold hardiness is especially important in woody perennial crops with a productive life span of several decades. Norton grapes have been grown in Missouri for over 160 years, but little is known about the genetics of its disease resistance, cold hardiness and berry quality. The high level of disease resistance of Norton makes it an attractive parent to use to generate hybrids with Vitis vinifera, the European grape used for wine making worldwide. Cultivars of this species, like Cabernet Sauvignon, are not adapted to the Missouri climate. Black walnuts are very large trees and slow to mature making this species a difficult subject for traditional breeding, but an ideal candidate for targeted breeding using DNA markers. These research efforts are to develop better locally adapted products that can be sustainably and profitably grown. The overall goals of my research program are to use genetic markers to rapidly deploy favorable alleles, accelerate breeding cycles for new cultivar releases and train a new generation of plant breeders.

II. Major Projects

  • VitisGen1&2: Application of Next Generation Technologies to Accelerate Grapevine Cultivar Development (2012–Present)
  • Genome-Enabled Genetic Study of Grape Botrytis Bunch Rot, Powdery Mildew and Downy Mildew Disease Resistance (2013–Present)
  • Building Research and Education Capacities to Strengthen the Black Walnut Breeding Program (2015–Present)
  • Dissecting the Genetic Determinants of Cold Hardiness, Rooting Ability, Sulfur Sensitivity and Berry Quality in Norton Grape (2015–Present)
  • Optimization of Chambourcin and Vignoles Grape Breeding Using Molecular Genetic Approaches/Marker-Assisted Selection (2016–Present)

III. Future Directions of Research

My future research goals will continue to include breeding for improved disease resistance, berry/nut quality and cold hardiness via marker-assisted selection. In addition to the research program, I will continue to participate in the Darr College academic programs, including training graduate students and visiting researchers, teaching undergraduate and graduate students and coordinating student recruitment, education and outreach activities. I will continue to serve Missouri State University by participating in the Missouri Wine and Grape Board and Missouri Nut Growers Association to promote grapevine and black walnut research as well as to provide a greater number of qualified graduates to augment the skilled workforce in the industries.

IV. Topics related to your research and of interest to the broad University Community, for which you are available for presentations and/or consultations.

Topics related to grape and black walnut breeding via marker-assisted selection as well as conventional plant breeding vs genetic engineering (GE)/genetically modified organisms (GMO)