Dr. Crosby conducts research in the areas of genetics and breeding to develop new varieties of vegetables that grow well in Texas. His program emphasizes developing varieties that have disease and stress tolerance, fruit quality and elevated levels of naturally occurring compounds – also known as phytochemicals -- that promote good health. Approaches include traditional selection of new plant types, gene mapping and screening plants for disease resistance and nutritional value. By identifying and deploying novel, quality and disease resistance genes in melons, peppers and tomatoes, this research program provides improved , high-value vegetable cultivars for Texas growers.
1. Identify and exploit genes which result in high levels of human health-related compounds, in multiple production environments. Compounds of interest include Vitamin C, beta-carotene, flavonoids and other anti-oxidants. This is accomplished by screening large numbers of progeny plants for fruit quality to develop new breeding lines.
2. Characterize and deploy disease resistance genes from diverse varieties to produce new cultivars with adaptation to stressful environments. Resistant cultivars have the potential to develop superior quality and require less application of pesticides.
3. Dissect genetic traits at the DNA level using molecular biology tools to improve the understanding of gene functions and expedite the breeding and selection process. The use of molecular markers to develop gene maps, cloning of individual genes and genetic transformation with novel genes all have the potential to create improved genotypes with unique traits.