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Dr. Seonghee Lee

Dr. Seonghee Lee
Research: Strawberry Molecular Genetics and Genomics

Dr. Lee’s research interest is mainly focused on the field of molecular genetics and genomics in strawberry breeding. He closely work together with Dr. Vance Whitaker, strawberry breeder at GCREC, to develop superior strawberry varieties. Below are the research projects currently ongoing in his group.

  • Develop and refine high-throughput genotyping systems for marker-assisted selection in the UF strawberry breeding program.
  • Identify traits and develop DNA-test for disease resistance, flavor and fruit quality.

One of main his research is to translate candidate gene discoveries and new genome-wide, high-throughput genotyping platforms into DNA tests that are useful for marker-assisted selection in the UF strawberry breeding program. Dr. Lee currently works on identifying and characterizing genes for economically important traits such as aroma, disease resistance, or fruit firmness.

Continual development of new strawberry cultivars with disease resistance is important for nursery and fruit growers. Currently, major QTL for angular leaf spot (ALS), Phytophthora crown rot (PhCR), and Colletotrichum crown rot (CCR) were discovered and their resistance mechanisms are now characterized using NGS technology (i.e. RNAseq, RenSeq, exon capture, target region capture, Iso-seq, etc.) and other approaches in functional genomics.

  • Construct fosmid/BAC libraries from UF advanced selections to facilitate gene cloning and marker development.
  • Sequence UF cultivars/advanced selections for octoploid genome assembly and subgenome specific linkage map construction.

His team constructs fosmid/BAC libraries from UF advanced selections to facilitate gene cloning and marker development. ). The fosmid/BAC clones possessing target traits such as disease resistance, flavor and fruit quality are identified and sequenced with PacBio. The sequences are aligned F. x ananassa reference genome to detect genetic variations for the target traits. The newly identified genetic elements from fosmid clones such as protein-coding genes, expressed sequences, transposable elements, and simple sequence repeats will be greatly valuable for strawberry breeding program.   

The diploid wild strawberry genome has been sequenced, and it has been greatly benefit to understand the octoploid strawberry genome and support breeding programs worldwide. Currently, our marker-assisted breeding is relying on the sequence information from F. vesca reference genome. Due the lack of an octoploid strawberry genome, the progress at identifying the causative genes and developing molecular markers underpinning important disease resistance, flavor and fruit quality are slow. Therefore, we can sequencing the whole genome of UF breeding accessions, which possess important breeding traits for future cultivar development. The impact of this research is large for UF strawberry breeding program and further Florida strawberry industry.

  • Develop gene-editing technology in octoploid strawberry to enhance the UF strawberry cultivar development program.

Most recently, his research focuses on develop gene-editing technology in octoploid strawberry to enhance the UF strawberry cultivar development program. To utilize the gene-editing technology for octoploid strawberry, his team developed and optimized tissue culture and transformation system for the main UF breeding parents and advance selections. Also, DNA-Free genome editing system is developed in cultivated strawberry. Thus, using this technique, the induction of targeted genome modification using protoplasts and regenerated from the protoplasts are possible in octoploid strawberry. 

These research efforts are supported through Florida Strawberry Growers Association (http://floridastrawberry.org/), UF strawberry breeding program and other national research programs (https://www.rosbreed.org/).

 

Assistant Professor, Strawberry Molecular Genetics and Genomics