You are here: Home Faculty Josie Hilley
Document Actions
Josie Hilley

Josie Hilley

Advisor: Dr. John Mullet

Room 306 Biochemistry & Biophysics Building
Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics
MS 2158

College Station , TX 77843-2158
Office Phone: (979) 845-0722


Enter program in 2008

Research Project:

I am interested in the genetics of height in sorghum.  Sorghum is grown for feed, forage, sugar, and biofuels.  In its native Africa, it is 3-4 meters tall.  In the U.S., it was bred for reduced height to prevent lodging, or breaking of the stem, that can reduce grain yield.  On the other hand, for forage, stem sugar, and cellulosic biofuels increased height can increase yield.  In the 1950s, researchers found that there are four major loci that control stem length in sorghum: Dw1-Dw4.  One of the loci, Dw3, has been map-based cloned.  This gene is an ABC efflux transporter of the plant hormone, auxin.  The primary goal of my research is to determine the gene that underlies Dw1 and to determine the location of Dw4.  I am using QTL mapping and fine mapping to do this.  Additionally, I have examined the global gene expression in different Dw backgrounds using RNA-seq.

Broader Impacts of Research Project:

Plant height is an important component of yield in crops.  In the middle part of the 20th century, the Green Revolution greatly increased the grain production of staple crops like wheat and rice, especially in developing countries, like India.  It is credited with saving a billion lives and the "Father of the Green Revolution" Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with initiative.  One of the ways that grain production was increased was to breed shorter plants that could support the grain without breaking the stem.  For other uses, increasing stem length will increase the yield.  For example, some types of biofuels are made from the plant itself, not the grain.  Taller plants will increase the amount of plant mass that each plant has and so the production of biofuels.  Sorghum is a crop similar to corn that is grown for animal feed, forage, sugar, and biofuels in the U.S.  In Africa it is grown for food and forage.  My research is focused on determining the genes and the function of those genes that control height in sorghum with the hopes of increasing yield.