Big ideas don’t grow on trees–they help trees grow better. In Washington state, where tree fruit is a multibillion dollar industry, WSU researcher Amit Dhingra’s big ideas for improving fruit quality and growing techniques are making a world of difference.

An expert in fruit genomics, Dr. Dhingra uses gene discovery and biotechnology applications to understand and enhance the unique biological characteristics of major food crops, including apples, grapes, cherries, and pears. With his colleagues at WSU, Dr. Dhingra is identifying the keys to growing more nutritious and delicious fruit. His pioneering work in genome sequencing is creating new knowledge for designing crops to meet the demands of our changing economic and environmental conditions.

Mapping the genomic blueprint of apples, one of Washington’s premier cash crops, has been a focus of Dr. Dhingra’s extensive, ongoing research. Apple growers and consumers across the state and worldwide are enjoying the benefits of his work on the apple genome project, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. His laboratory at WSU is now partnered with researchers from Italy, South Africa, and New Zealand to form an international consortium on apple genome sequencing.

Improved fruit quality through genomics research promises myriad benefits for Washington fruit growers, who already produce some of the world’s best fruit. WSU, with its expertise in horticultural genomics, is uniquely positioned to advance crop development, spurring economic growth throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.


Featuring: Amit Dhingra, Ph.D.

Dr. Amit Dhingra is an assistant professor of horticultural genomics and biotechnology at WSU. He earned his Ph.D. through the University of Delhi, India, and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, supported by a Rockefeller Foundation pre-doctoral fellowship. His post-doctoral training, initiated at Rutgers and completed at University of Florida, represents a confluence of disciplines within plant biology. Dr. Dhingra is widely published in top plant science journals in the areas of genomics, plastid transformation, photobiology, and photosynthesis engineering. Some of his work on green-light responses in plants is redefining the established paradigms in photobiology. He has also developed a novel biological and computational method in collaboration with a WSU colleague for targeted resequencing that is enabling biologists to conduct genomics research faster at lower cost. Some of his previous work on engineering photosynthesis holds great potential for increasing energy production in plants.