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About Us

Our work in the development of sustainable roses began in the early 1990s when Dr. Robert E. Basye established the Endowed Chair in Rose Genetics. His goal in all of his rose breeding was to develop well-adapted rose bushes focusing on black spot resistance. Funding was obtained from the American Rose Society Trust Fund for the rose breeding work at Texas A&M University as well as work in the management of the rose rosette disease (RRD) at the University of Tennessee at the Plateau AgResearch and Education Center in Crossville, TN which was vital in doing the preliminary research needed for developing a proposal for a large federal program. In 2008, the Farm Bill established the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) program under the USDA to accelerate the ongoing research in horticultural crops. This opened up opportunities for funding research in the ornamental crop area where there was little or no funding.

Combating Rose Rosette Disease

The first successful SCRI rose proposal took shape after an industry-organized conference (Star Roses and Plants and Garden Rose Council) about rose rosette disease brought together all the stakeholders to better define the problem and chart out a plan to resolve it. The first SCRI project, “Combating Rose Rosette Disease” (2014-2019), was focused on the rose rosette disease. During this project, we developed the diagnostics for the RRV, basic knowledge about the biology of both the virus and the vector mite (Phyllocoptes fructiphilus), management approaches to control RRD, evaluated hundreds of roses for their resistance to RRD, created genetic populations to identify the genetic basis of resistance, developed molecular tools to accelerate the breeding of RRD resistant roses, and established this web site with maps of the distribution of and the best information available for the identification and management of RRD. The results from this project, as well as those from “RosBreed: Combining disease resistance with horticultural quality in new Rosaceous cultivars” (2014-2019) and “Tools for Genomics-Assisted Breeding for Polyploid Crops” (2020-present), were combined to create the SCRI “Developing Sustainable Roses” project with the long-term goal of developing sustainable rose landscapes based on cultivars resistant to RRD and black spot.

Black spot disease on leaf

Black spot disease on leaf

Developing Sustainable Roses

In October 2022, the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative granted us funding to continue our research on rose rosette disease (RRD) and include rose black spot disease (RBSD, pictured right). There is an increasing demand for carefree and sustainable roses that require fewer inputs, are resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses, and have high ornamental quality. Sustainable rose cultivars must have resistance to these diseases, therefore, this project has the long-term goal to develop sustainable rose landscapes based on cultivars resistant to RRD and RBSD. The project team is a national network of researchers, extension specialists, and industry partners who have over the last decade built research infrastructure and information toolkits to develop and deploy sustainable RRD and RBSD-resistant rose cultivars and information targeted toward stakeholder groups. The goals of this project include: 
  • Characterize the host plant interaction with RRV and vector mite (Phyllocoptes fructiphilus)
  • Establish a breeding platform to enable the development of adapted and commercially acceptable RRD and black spot-resistant roses
  • Assess the socioeconomic impact of RRD management approaches
  • Develop comprehensive research demonstration and education programs for RRD management

Now that we know there is resistance to this disease, we need to know how it is inherited. The goal is not only to identify the genes or QTL (quantitative trait loci) that condition resistance to this disease but also to create useful molecular markets in the breeding of RRD-resistant roses and employ DNA sequence data to accelerate the breeding process.

To read more about the history of this project and the new Sustainable Roses project, you can click here to read the full report. You can also follow us on Twitter for more updates!