Dr. Ahmad Omar
Research Assistant Scientist
Horticulture Science/Plant Biotechnology
Our research focuses on citrus scion and rootstock improvement and understands disease resistance mechanism for citrus canker and HLB (Huanglongbing or citrus greening). This includes the following:
- Citrus tissue culture and plant biotechnology tools are being applied to the genetic improvement of commercially important citrus cultivars. New somatic hybrids, cybrids and engineered citrus lines (using Protoplast and/or Agrobacterium-mediated transformation) are being produced for disease management (primarily Huanglongbing and Citrus Canker).
- Utilizing molecular biology techniques, greenhouse and field evaluations to screen elite germplasm created by conventional breeding and/or biotechnology tools for HLB (huanglongbing) and citrus canker disease resistance.
- Developing citrus protoplast transformation/regeneration protocols for genome editing using CRISPR/Cas9 that does not involve any Agrobacterium in the process, which could lead to the production of citrus modified plants that is not regulated as GMO.
- Regeneration of grapefruit and sweet orange cybrids that contain mitochondria and chloroplast from ‘Meiwa’ kumquat with potential for improved citrus canker resistance in important commercially citrus cultivars. This approach will improve our understanding the role of chloroplast in disease resistance, as well as organelle genome/nuclear genome interactions. Results from this research should help Florida growers assess the new grapefruit cybrids in the era of citrus canker and/or HLB.
- Somatic cell fusion techniques are being used to produce somatic hybrids of selected mandarins (Tetraploid, 4x) to be used in the citrus breeding program to produce seedless (Triploid, 3x) cultivars for the fresh market.
- Rescuing elite citrus germplasm using different grafting techniques especially Miro-grafting and shoot-tip grafting.