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Kellye Eversole has been involved with agricultural research and development since the early 1990s and is currently directing two international research consortia.

She explains these projects to listeners, covering along the way

  • The benefits of sequencing the wheat genome
  • How tailoring agricultural practices to the specificity of a particular area and environment could reduce nutrient use and produce more resilient crops sustainably, and
  • Why understanding the phytobiomes (plants in specific biomes) of these specific places is critical.

Kellye Eversole specializes in agricultural genomics, biotechnology, and information technology. She directs the  International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium and the International Alliance for Phytobiomes Research.

The wheat genome sequencing effort is a way to build the foundation for a new paradigm in wheat breeding. She explains that while it generally takes 12 to 15 years to develop a new wheat variety, this consortium is providing tools breeders can use to bypass some of those years; those tools can only be developed through access to a high-quality sequence, she adds.

As with our advances in human genomics where we are targeting healthcare with a person’s genetic makeup in mind, we can do the same thing in agriculture to create disease-resistant varieties of wheat before a disease wipes out a crop.

She also explains that the Phytobiomes Alliance addresses factors beyond genome sequencing in agriculture—regardless of how much you know about a plant, she remarks, growth will be influenced by what’s in the immediate environment down to the specific site and farm—what works in Oklahoma won’t work In New York, for example.

Examining the phytobiome is a holistic system approach that strives to understand all the factors that impact a plant in a particular field or forest, so we can use the best crop genetics and management practices for a particular area.

For more see www.wheatgenome.org/and www.phytobiomesalliance.org/ as well as the web site for Kellye Eversole’s company, www.eversoleassociates.com.

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