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Raleigh & the Research Triangle


Stephen J. Szalma stephen_szalma@ncsu.edu

The focus of the research in my laboratory is aimed at identifying and characterizing the genetic factors underlying quantitative traits in plants. Specific areas of interest are: 1) the genetics of heterosis, 2) diversity-based genomics approaches to identifying epigenetic factors influencing gene expression, and 3) finding associations between natural allelic variation and agronomically significant phenotypic variation to facilitate the deployment of natural genetic diversity for germplasm improvement. Using maize as a model, we develop and use approaches with foundations rooted in classical, molecular, and population genetics, genomics, and statistics to dissect the molecular and genetic properties of complex traits in maize. An increased comprehension of the intricate phenomena providing the broad spectrum of genetic and phenotypic diversity in maize is critical for understanding complex processes in plants, inferring the effects of selection, and for integrating efficient targeted molecular selection practices in breeding programs. Understanding the molecular basis of complex traits will provide genetic solutions to problems currently inhibiting our understanding and improvement of agronomic crops.

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