The focus of research in the Van Eck laboratory is biotechnological approaches to the study of gene function and crop improvement. For our studies, we apply several genetic engineering strategies to two major food crops: potato and tomato. The development of biotechnological techniques has made it possible to design and introduce gene constructs into plant cells and recover plants that express the introduced genes. Genes of interest to us have the potential to strengthen a plant’s resistance to disease, improve fruit characteristics, and enhance nutritional quality.
The Physalis genus is part of the Solanaceae family (also home to the well-known tomato and potato), and is home to the edible species of peruviana and pruinosa. These species are commonly referred to as groundcherry and goldenberry, as well as many other regional names. Plants produce small edible fruits that range from sweet to tart with a variety of unique flavors. This project aims to further explore the cultivation of peruviana and pruinosa in New York State and gauge potential for local food systems. The Physalis Improvement Project is led by the Van Eck research group and is made possible through funding from The Triad and National Science Foundations.
We have a summer intern position available on a collaborative NSF-funded project to study the networks involved in meristem transitions in plants and their roles in branching variation and flower production. Together with our collaborators on this project, we have established an approach that utilizes genetic, genomic, natural variation, and biotechnological tools in tomato and related Solanaceae species to identify and characterize the underlying molecular networks regulating shoot architecture and flower production in plants that exhibit the widespread “sympodial” growth habit.
The Van Eck lab’s role in this project is to develop efficient genetic engineering methods for several Solanaceaefamily members to determine candidate gene involvement in meristem transition and branching across species. In addition, we are responsible for phenotypic analysis of the resultant transgenic lines that we grow in the BTI greenhouse.
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- As the global population booms and climate change continues, improving crops to produce more food, use less resources like water and pesticides, and survive harsher environments will be needed to […] Read more »
- Boyce Thompson Institute is happy to share that two of our faculty members recently appeared as guests on popular podcasts. The content of these podcasts illustrate the breadth of research […] Read more »
- Boyce Thompson Institute president, David Stern, has officially announced promotions for faculty members Frank Schroeder and Joyce Van Eck. Both researchers were thoroughly reviewed and evaluated on both their achievements to date and the potential they possess. Read more »
- BTI Associate Professor Joyce Van Eck's gene editing research is the featured cover story of the August 2018 edition of WIRED Magazine. Read more »
- The Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) invites the Ithaca community to Art@BTI, a free event where art, science, and wine will collide. Art@BTI will take place on Thursday, May 31st from 5:00 to 7:00pm. Read more »
- Cultivating a disregard for day length enabled humans to introduce tomatoes to the Mediterranean region. Read more »
- Many BTI researchers will present their latest research at the 13th annual SolGenomics Conference, Sept. 12-16 in Davis, California. Read more »
- An improved protocol cuts the time it takes to modify a tomato's genome from 17 weeks to 11, accelerating research into ways to breed more productive crops. Read more »
- A technique to enhance beta-carotene levels in potatoes and cassava may one day help alleviate vitamin A deficiency in developing countries. Read more »
- Students in Cornell University’s course, The GMO Debate: Science and Society, visited a genetic engineering laboratory at Boyce Thompson Institute, courtesy of Assistant Professor Joyce Van Eck and postdoctoral researcher Alex Amaro, Stern Lab. Read more »
- “My experience was really valuable...It confirmed the fact that I want to do science...science doesn’t work a lot of the time...it’s having the motivation and determination to tackle problems that you’re always going to come across.” Juan G Read more »
- BTI researchers led team that pioneered international tomato gene sequencing and genetic basis of fruit ripening. Congrats to Vrebalov, Van Eck, Mueller, Giovannoni, Fei. Read more »
- For the first time, the genome of the tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, has been decoded. Read more »