Responsible for instruction, research and continuing
education related to the biology and production of fruit and nut crops,
maintenance of their postharvest quality and utilization of their many
products. The great diversity of fruit and nut crops, the value of their
products, and the wide range of soil, and climatic conditions in California
emphasize the unique role of the department.
The department consists of 11 Academic Senate faculty
and nine Academic Federation members (CE and AES) for a total of 2.22
I&R, 11.40 OR and 6.38 CE FTE. One new CE specialist is under recruitment
and the permission to replace an endowed chair position is pending. One
current faculty member will reach age 65 in 2006.
Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department (current)
- Genetics and plant improvement - major germplasm development and genetics programs in almond, peach, pistachio, prune, strawberry, walnut and Prunus rootstocks with associated programs in molecular biology, genome analysis, taxonomy and transformation.
- Perennial crop biology, physiology and ecology - biological, physiological and environmental factors that affect production and quality of tree crops in semi-arid environments.
- Fruit postharvest biology and technology - fruit
physiology and biochemistry associated with fruit maturation, ripening
and senescence and the development of technology to enhance post-harvest
storage life and quality of fruits and nuts.
Major Programmatic Thrusts of the Department (5-10 years)
No major changes are envisioned in primary thrust areas
however more emphasis will be placed on use of emerging technologies to
develop cultivars with enhanced nutritional, flavor and pest resistance
characteristics and orchard management/fruit handling practices that are
more resource efficient and environmentally sound.
Pomology is the only academic department in the United
States devoted solely to fruit science. It provides world leadership in
the science and technology of production and handling of temperate fruit
and nut crops. In the past eight years, three members of our faculty have
served as president of the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Many others have received national or international recognition for their
research, teaching or extension activities and several serve in leadership
roles in academic or industry organizations.
Extramural Grants and Gifts
Direct cost expenditures over the past three years have
averaged $2,840,000. Fund sources include USDA, NRI, state agencies, and
numerous commodity boards, foundations and industry sources. The department
has an endowed chair (Will Lester Chair in Pomology) an endowed professorship
(L.D. Davis Professorship), a major endowed research program (Ramos Walnut
Research Fund) and three endowed fellowships (Bringhurst, Stuke and Pomology
Teaching Programs of the Department
The department contributes to several cross-departmental,
interdisciplinary undergraduate majors (plant biology, agricultural science
and environment, crop science and management and biotechnology) Enrollment
in all of these majors has increased over the past few years. Several
faculty also teach introductory biological science, science and society
and Davis honors challenge courses. Faculty are actively involved in several
graduate groups (primarily Plant Biology, Ecology, Genetics and Horticulture)
serving in leadership roles, teaching graduate courses and mentoring students.
The Pomology Cooperative Extension programs are organized
around workgroups and the Pomology Extension Continuing Conference (PECC).
PECC and all the associated workgroups function to link county advisors
and interdisciplinary, campus specialists and AES faculty for problem
solving research and delivery of extension education programs. The department
has three CE/AES specialists committed to the Kearney Agricultural Center
and another at the South Coast REC in Irvine.
Potential for Collaborative Links to Other Units to Develop Clusters of Excellence
Departmental programs are interdisciplinary and strong
links exist with numerous other college programs. Postharvest biology
is a well-known cluster of excellence and a larger role in the campus
genomics cluster is envisioned.
Positions Needed to Improve Research, Teaching and Extension Goals
- Functional genomics/molecular genetic approaches for improved flavor and nutritional quality of pomological crops: This position would build expertise in tree crop genomics.
- Fruit biochemistry, proteomics/multidimensional protein analysis, cellular signal transduction: This position will rebuild the biochemical research capacity of the internationally recognized postharvest biology group.
- Computational biology/informatics/crop computer simulation: Use of computational analysis/ graphics, bioinfomatics and organismal/crop biology to develop functional plant computer simulation models for teaching, applied research and orchard management.
- Precision horticulture and sustainable horticultural systems: Use of advanced informational system technology to develop precision orchard management systems.
- Rhizosphere biology of perennial fruit crops:
Would link organismal biology to campus strengths in environmental biology
and advance sustainable production technologies.
Priorities (No Growth Scenario)
Position 1 is the top priority and has been requested as a replacement position for the retirement of the individual holding the Will Lester Endowed Chair. We have one additional retirement projected by 2006 (age 65 criterion). That position provides expertise in postharvest physiology, bridging between the fundamental and the applied research activities and has responsibility for teaching several fruit physiology courses. It will be essential to replace it to sustain effectiveness of the postharvest program.
Priorities (Minimal Growth Scenario)
Position 2 would have the highest priority and provide
opportunities to take advantage of campus initiatives in genomics as well
as existing strengths in organismal biology. The position would also support
increasing teaching demands in biotechnology and biochemistry.
Projected Resource Needs and Strategies for Achieving
The greatest needs are for increased quality of facilities (laboratory, greenhouse, field) and mechanisms to stabilize funding for graduate students. Piecemeal facility upgrades have been achieved through creative means but comprehensive improvements are necessary. The department has attracted endowments for three graduate fellowships and continues to explore opportunities for more development funds.