What kind of research happens at the Greenhouses?

How has this research helped the UW and the public?

At Walnut Street, a wide range of crops are studied.  These have included: corn, soybean, bean, potato, carrot, beet, cilantro, pepper, brassica, arabidopsis, squash, cucumber, melon, alfalfa, oat, grass, wheat, impatiens, yellow monkeyflower, aster, aspen, poplar, medicago, lambsquarter, ragweed, and many more.  The bulk of our research benefits Wisconsin agricultural crops (corn, cranberry, potato, alfalfa, soybean, etc.)

Below are some examples of the research groups, their focuses, findings, and contributions to society.

In addition to the direct research functions, this facility also serves a significant number of the faculty who are actively participating in graduate interdisciplinary training programs.

Dr. Heidi Kaeppler, Associate Professor – Agronomy, Cereal Crop Genetics and Genomics

Dr. Kaeppler’s research program focuses on cereal crop genetics and genetic engineering.  The long term goal of her project is to improve our understanding of the genetic control of expression of important traits in cereals for use in plant functional genomics research and crop improvement applications.  Currently, Dr. Kaeppler’s group is conducting research in the following areas: 1) investigation of the effects of RNAi-mediated chromatin gene suppression on transgene integration and expression in cereals, 2) mapping and cloning of genes involved in stem cell generation, somatic embryogenesis and regenerability from tissue culture, and 3) further development and optimization of cereal transformation systems for use in high-throughput functional genomics studies.

The WSGH facility is utilized in Kaeppler’s research to grow regenerated, transgenic maize plants, conduct crossing for generation of transgenic seed for genetic analysis, growth of maize immature embryo donor plants for utilization in genetic engineering systems, and growth of maize plants (transgenic and nontransgenic) in replicated trials for the investigations described above.

Dr. Phil Simon, Professor – usda – Carrot Crop Genetics, Genomics, and Breeding.

Professor Simon has a world-recognized plant improvement program that includes both applied and basic objectives. The average carotene content of U.S. carrots has risen 88% in the last three decades primarily because of the use of germplasm developed by this program. Carrots now provide approximately 60% of the U.S. dietary provitamin A and fully 90% of the carrots consumed in the U.S. today have genetic background coming from this program.  Professor Simon now has launched an international, multi-nation, interdisciplinary effort to improve carrots as a source of carotene for developing countries. In addition, Dr. Simon’s group developed the first genetic map of carotene biosynthetic genes.

Dr. Brent McCown, Gottschalk Distinguished Research Professor (retired) – Woody Crop Biotechnology and Genetic Improvement.

Professor McCown’s program studied the inheritance of important traits and the expression of transgenes in long-lived perennial crops such as trees and shrubs.  One of his projects was detailing the genetics of anthocyanin and other flavinoid production in cranberry fruit. Working with associates in Nutritional Sciences, Food Sciences, and Animal Sciences, the intent was to not only develop selections that can be grown with reduced environmental impact in wetland regions, but also to improve the nutritional aspects of cranberry products. Studies are underway to evaluate if and how changes in fruit flavinoid content affect the urinary tract and/or cardiovascular health benefits associated with the consumption of cranberry fruit and juice products. Through the combined use of crossing forced plants in the greenhouses in winter, in vitro germination and cloning, and accelerated growth of the resulting seedlings, the breeding cycle for cranberries has been reduced from more than four years to less than two years.

Mr. John Mochon – Small Grains Breeding Specialist

The Small Grains Breeding Program focuses on improving cereal crop genetics using traditional breeding techniques. Their main goal is the release of new, patented varieties of Oats and other small grains, as “Wisconsin Varieties”, through Wisconsin Crop Improvement Association and Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Each year they grow Oat and Barley variety trials at several locations throughout Wisconsin, and advanced Oat lead lines are tested in Uniform trials in nearby states. These trials allow them to field test their new Oat lines and to gather data on existing varieties. The summer trials also allow Wisconsin farmers to get a first hand view of new varieties of small grains. UW Madison has been involved in small grains plant breeding since the early 1900’s. Ultimately, Wisconsin farmers are the main beneficiaries of this program.



Genetic Diversity among Cucumis metuliferus Populations Revealed by Cucumber Microsatellites
Yiqun Weng
HortScience 2010;45 214-219 –

Kaeppler Lab – Cereal Crop Genetics

Torbert K.A., Kaeppler H.F, Rines H.W., Somers D.A.  1998.  Genetically engineering  elite oat genotypes.  Crop Sci. 38:1685-1687

Forsberg R.A., Kaeppler H.F., Duerst R.D.  1999.  Registration of Bay oat.  Crop Sci. 39:878.

Forsberg R.A., Kaeppler H.F., Duerst R.D.  1999.  Registration of Belle oat.  Crop Sci.  39:878-879.

Kaeppler H.F., Duerst R.D., Forsberg R.A.  1999.  Registration of Gem oat.  Crop Sci. 39:879.

Kaeppler H.F., Duerst R.D., Forsberg R.A.  1999.  Registration of Kewaunee barley.  Crop Sci. 39:871.

Kaeppler H.F., Menon G.K., Nuutila A.M., Skadsen R.G.  2000.  Transgenic oat plants via visual selection for cells expressing green fluorescent protein.  Plant Cell Reports 19: 661-666.

Skadsen R.W., Sathish P., Kaeppler H.F.  2000.  Expression of thaumatin-like permatin PR-5 genes switches from the ovary wall to the aleurone in developing barley and oat seeds.  Plant Sci.  156: 11-22.

Kaeppler, H.F., Carlson, A.R., Menon, G.K.  2001.  Routine utilization of green fluorescent protein as a visual selectable marker for cereal transformation.  In Vitro Cell. Devel. Biol.-Plant.  37: 120-126.

Small Grains Bulletin – Wisconsin Oats and Barley Performance Tests For 2010