Tom Ranney outside with pink and white hydrangeas.

Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics

From genotype to phenotype and vice versa – research here in the Department of Horticultural Science spans foundational genomics, bioinformatics, genetics, biotechnology, and applied plant breeding on a broad diversity of horticultural crops in North Carolina and around the world.  These efforts are yielding healthy and nutritious foods, more sustainable crops, a cleaner environment, superior products, and economic development.


Fruit breeding programs span diverse crops and are using modern breeding techniques to develop new varieties with superior traits that are ideally suited for production in North Carolina and beyond.


Two scientists look at tomatoes growing in a greenhouse.

The vegetable breeding programs at NC State University have a long and productive history. Programs in sweet potato, white potato, cucurbits, and tomatoes go back decades and have made significant contributions with the development of new and improved varieties grown worldwide.

Landscape and Floriculture Plants

Irene Palmer

Landscape and floriculture crops have been one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in North Carolina over the last thirty years. Plants with greater adaptability, pest resistance, and commercial potential contribute to superior products, a cleaner environment, and improved competitiveness and profitability for our horticultural industries. These benefits are ultimately realized by the consumer in the form of superior plants, more valuable landscapes, and an improved quality of life.

Specialty and Bioenergy Crops

brandon stevia research
Crop improvement projects are also targeting new, emerging crops and industries from biomass and bioenergy to stevia plants for use as a natural sweetener.

Genomics and Plant Biotechnology

Becky Kirkland Photo

The Department of Horticultural Science uses multidisciplinary research solutions with interest in genetics, genomics, and breeding. We integrate principles of traditional plant breeding, modern plant breeding, comparative genomics, quantitative genetics, and apply genomics and bioinformatics science to identify molecular bases underlying complex traits in cultivars. We are using the latest sequencing technologies to sequence genome and transcriptome sequences of various species.

Global and Interdisciplinary Engagements

Faculty in the Department of Horticultural Science are actively engaged in a number of global and interdisciplinary activities. This includes being members of the NC State Plant Breeding Consortium, as well as being involved with international plant breeding initiatives.