David Francis has been a professor in the Department of Horticulture & Crop Science at Ohio State University since 2013. He aims to define the genetic basis of field resistance, humid environment adaptation, and fruit quality while contributing innovative strategies for crop improvement. His tomato breeding and genetics program has strengths in both the basic and applied sciences. Emphasis is placed on translating the results of plant genomics through the development of techniques for genetic mapping and selection in breeding populations. Individual projects stress multi-disciplinary approaches to breeding for disease resistance and end-product quality, understanding the genetic determinants of nutritional quality in tomato fruit, mechanisms of plant resistance to disease, population genetics of cultivated tomato, and the evolution of tomato and its wild relatives.
His team provides fundamental knowledge related to the genetic and molecular mechanisms that control disease resistance, tomato fruit quality, and the domestication of plants. Knowledge gained from these studies has directly resulted in the release of tomato varieties with improved disease resistance, enhanced processing quality, and enhanced nutritional value. Processing tomato hybrids and parents released by the program are used commercially and rank among the best in the Great Lakes industry for factory quality grade.
His keynote presentation at the VI International Symposium on Tomato Diseases will be on “New approaches in the discovery and introgression of disease resistance genes from wild tomato”.