Steven J Knapp

Steven J. Knapp

Position Title
Professor and Director of the Strawberry Breeding Program at UC Davis

Plant Sciences


Knapp, a professor and director of the Strawberry Breeding Program in the Department of Plant Sciences, specializes in plant breeding, genetics, and genomics. Knapp has been a professor at both Oregon State University and at the University of Georgia, Athens. Most recently, he was global director for vegetable breeding with Monsanto’s Vegetable Research and Development Program in Woodland, California, before joining the UC Davis faculty in 2015.

Research interests:

Plant breeding, genomics, statistical genetics, bioinformatics

Brief overview:

California is the dominant producer of both fresh and processed strawberries, providing more than 87 percent of the strawberries consumed in North America. Strawberry varieties developed at UC Davis produce about 60 percent of the strawberries consumed worldwide. The goal of our Strawberry Breeding Program is to develop new, commercially useful varieties of strawberries that have higher quality berries, are less vulnerable to pests and diseases, and can be grown more efficiently.

We work to develop and deliver outstanding cultivators by collaborating with growers and colleagues, preserving and multiplying germplasm, conducting cutting-edge genetics and genomics research, and planting yield trials in collaboration with growers throughout the state.

Current projects:

  • Development of short-day and day-neutral strawberry cultivars
  • Genetics of resistance to soil-borne pathogens, photoperiod response, and fruit quality in strawberry
  • Strawberry genome evolution, diversity, and domestication
  • Genomics-enabled breeding in strawberry