Gina Maria Sideli
B.S. Biology 2007, Stony Brook University, NY
M.S. Biology 2014, California State University, Chico, CA
Ph.D. in progress, Horticulture and Agronomy, University of California, Davis, CA
Association Study and Genomic Selection in Walnut
The primary objective of my dissertation is to develop genomic and improved phenotypic tools necessary to implement a molecular breeding program in walnut, and to test whether amended methods are more accurate than classical breeding methods. Economically important to the UC Davis Walnut Improvement Program (WIP) and local growers are shell seal strength and pellicle color traits; these have a strong environmental influence making phenotyping accuracy a challenge. Seal strength trait is of interest to growers for preservation of kernel integrity. Meanwhile, pellicle color is particularly relevant due to nutritional enhancement; in addition, lighter pellicle color command higher compensation than darker ones.
My research is a pivotal step toward attainment of a WIP long-term goal, release cultivars more quickly. Expected outcomes of this research are to identify chromosomal regions that contain genes controlling the two traits of interest described above, as well as the development and testing of objective phenotyping methods. With this knowledge, the WIP breeder will be empowered to make quicker, more accurate selection decisions and enabled to release cultivars to walnut growers more expeditiously.