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Breeding for Vertical Farming

We are utilizing molecular tools to improve the quality and yield of plants grown in vertical farm systems. 

Vertical farm systems offer the unique opportunity to accurately control environmental conditions to maximize plant growth. However, most vertical farm systems are using cultivars that are genetically optimized to perform uniformly in variable environments, such as an outdoor field.

Currently, there is little effort to breed cultivars specifically for vertical farms, where the environment can be fully manipulated.

The Plan Forward

Our research employs modern molecular tools to improve the genetics of plants grown in vertical farms. Current efforts are focused on developing lettuce germplasms with increased yield and quality, while reducing the energy consumption from the vertical farm system.

Additionally, we are also performing genetic screening of strawberry cultivars from the NCSU large germplasm to identify those that are suitable for vertical farm systems.

For this project, we have plant scientists specializing in environmental plant physiology working alongside molecular biologists specializing in gene editing, plant transformation and pheno-hunting.

Current Collaborators 

Dr. Wusheng Liu, a molecular biologist in the Department of Horticultural Sciences

Dr. Kedong Da, the Director of the Plant Transformation Lab at NC State

Dr. Gina Fernandez, Horticultural Sciences, strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry breeder