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Department of Horticulture and Crop Science



Areas of Interest

Research in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science (HCS) focuses on plants and diverse aspects of their genetics, biochemistry, ecology, management, quality, utilization, and associated social dimensions.  See what we’ve been up to!  

Select area of interest Agronomy, Bioemergent Materials, Bioinformatics, Crop Ecology, Crop Breeding,  and Genetics. Landscape, Horticulture and Floriculture, Molecular, Cellular and Biochemical Biology, Risk Analysis in Agricultural Systems, Seed Biology, Turfgrass, Vegetable and Fruit Production, Viticulture, and Weed Biology.

Faculty labs are located in Columbus (c), Ohio or Wooster (w), Ohio 


Agronomic research involves the application of science and technology for production of crop plants for food, feedstocks, fiber, fuel, and other uses of interest to society.  Agronomy is a diverse science that includes... crop management, plant genetics, crop physiology, crop ecology, and soil science.

Bioemergent Materials

Bioemergent materials research involves the discovery, manipulation, and utilization of unique crops as alternatives to synthetic materials.  Research in this area covers the entire chain of production of a product from physiological biochemistry & genetic engineering through traditional production in field, greenhouse, hydroponics, harvest fermentation, processing, production, and product development.  Bioemergent materials research encompasses many scientific branches and thrives due to the partnerships with media and corporations.  The field’s ultimate goal is sustainable commercial production using 100% crop consumption and less waste, pollution, and cost.  Bioemergent materials research is highly interdisciplinary.



The field of Bioinformatics developed out of necessity for analyzing the huge amounts of genetic and molecular information being discovered.  To create a complete picture of the genome and its molecular counterparts, computational sciences and information technology was combined with biology to vastly improve our ability to use and analyze giant sets of molecular and genomic data.


Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)

Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) is the production of plants inside structures used to create environmental conditions optimum for plant growth and development. CEA allows continuation of plant growth when it would otherwise be disrupted or stopped under ambient external conditions. Various plants are grown under controlled environments including those for vegetables, fruits, flowers as well as value-added products. CEA systems include high tunnels, greenhouses, warehouses (vertical farms), growth rooms, as well as life-support systems for humans in space. Faculty in this area are engaged in research designed to advance the development of technology and methods allowing for sustainable production of plants and their products.

Faculty: Katrina Cornish (w), Michelle Jones (w), Matt Kleinhenz (w), Chieri Kubota (c), Jim Metzger (c).

Crop Breeding and Genetics

Research in crop breeding and genetics focuses on the genetic modification of crop plants to improve plant performance for the benefit of society.  The genetic improvements can be in yield, quality, pest resistance, environmental stress tolerance, or other aspects.  Approaches range from selection of plants with desirable traits to sophisticated molecular methods with the goals such as developing new breeding metehods, identifying economically useful genes, and development of new germplasm and varieties.  HCS faculty conduct genetic research to discover the genes responsible for shape, growth, and development of fruit; to analyze genetic diversity and hybridization of crops; to enhance and preserve germplasm; to investigate genome evolution and gene flow; to understand genes responsible for nutritional content and quality; and more. At Ohio State University, our curriculum in crop breeding and genetics is closely linked to functional plant breeding and genetics research efforts in order to provide students with opportunities for inquiry based education.


Undergraduates interested Crop and Plant Breeding or Genetics should take the following courses (in addition to those required for the respective major):

Our Graduate curriculum in Plant Breeding and Genetics consists of:
  • Seed Production (HCS 5630)
  • Plant Breeding and Biotechnology (HCS 7625)
  • Advanced Plant Breeding (HCS 8825)
  • Introduction to Experimental Design  (HCS 5887)
  • Techniques of Experimental Design (HCS 8887)
  • Agricultural Genomics (HCS 7003
  • Current Topics (HCS 8830) - Recent examples include:  Domestication, Bioinformatics
  • Methods (HCS 7806) - Recent examples include:  Bioinformatics, Data analysis with R, Molecular Markers, Field Breeding

Crop Ecology

Agroecology applies the principles of ecology to the production of crops for food, fiber, fuel and many other uses.  A fundamental aim is to develop agricultural systems that are productive, profitable, socially acceptable, and environmentally responsible.  Specific areas of interest for faculty in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science include: conservation of crop genetic resources, biotechnology risk assessment, and invasive species biology, among other areas.


Landscape Horticulture and Floriculture

Research in Landscape Horticulture and Floriculture focuses on plants that provide environmental and esthetic benefits as well as the information systems that support the use of these plants.  The plants that are used in parks, streets, commercial areas, residential landscapes and interiors are critical components to a high-quality life.  Trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous perennials and annuals are all available to consumers because of a sophisticated production and distribution system that contribute significantly to local economies. Research at The Ohio State University in this area  encompasses a broad range of topics from production systems with conventional and organic approaches,  to transplant survival, to genetic mechanisms of flower longevity, to germplasm characterization, to novel educational systems, and more. One example of this research emphasizes improving transplant survival and protection of high value ornamentals for producers and consumers through genetic, molecular, and physiological approaches.

Faculty: Michelle Jones (c)

Molecular, Cellular & Biochemical Biology

Molecular, cellular, and biochemical research conducted in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science aims to understand plant components that are under genetic control and are modified by environmental conditions.  Work done in HCS in this field includes research on proteins, hormones, cell structure, and their relation to nutritional, chemical, and molecular aspects of plants.  Studies have addressed phytochemical components of fruits and vegetables and their benefits to humans, plant sugars, signal transduction, enzymatic activity and stress responses.


Risk Analysis in Agricultural Systems

Farming is the ultimate high-risk, high-stakes enterprise.  Farmers are risk managers and make decisions every day that affect the food supply, environment, and the health of humans.  Research in Ag Risk  focuses on helping farmers better understand and manage diverse risks ranging from pests and pathogens to finances and business decisions.  Ag Risk Analysis research is highly interdisciplinary.

Faculty: Doug Doohan (w)

Seed Biology

The nation’s food supply starts with seeds. Seeds are vital as propagating units for all agronomic and horticultural crops, from corn to turfgrass to flowers and trees. Of equal importance are research efforts that lead to a deeper understanding of seed development, germination, vigor and plant establishment; as well as activities that permit  preserving seeds so that methods to best capture, characterize and utilize genetic diversity in germplasm are available. Important basic and applied research areas in the department include seed production, quality, pathology, physiology/biochemistry, ecology and genetic/molecular biology.

Faculty: John Cardina (w), Doug Doohan (w), JC Jang (c), Matt Kleinhenz (w), Emilie Regnier (c). 


Turfgrass provides environmental, functional and recreational benefits to humankind.  Turfgrass studies in HCS encompass natural and chemical pest management, stress tolerance, physiology, genetics, and sustainable management practices to reduce inputs and increase quality of turf on golf courses, sports fields, lawns and funcional green space. 

Faculty: Karl Danneberger (c), David Gardner (c). 

Vegetable and Fruit Production

Vegetable and fruit production research in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science encompasses diverse fields of research in its efforts to improve the yield and quality of vegetable and fruit crops.   Research on produce production in HCS includes manipulating growing environments, analyzing chemical composition of fruits and vegetables, utilizing new or underused crops for nutritional improvement, use of organic and sustainable production practices, assessing and improving specialty crop marketing, food safety, and development of novel cultural practices for the safe production of high quality produce. 



Viticulture is the science of grapes growing and grape production.  The Department of Horticulture and Crop Science offers a unique focus area of viticulture research and works closely with the thriving Ohio grape and wine industry.  Research interests of the viticulture program includes: environmental stress physiology especially cold stress, wine grape variety evaluations, and vineyard management practices to improve the production and quality of wine grapes.  Student teaching is offered through internships and hands-on training in research and commercial vineyards.  The viticulture program also provides extension and outreach educational activities to grape producers and the public at large including an annual conference, short courses, and workshops.


Weed Biology

Weed ecology applies ecological principles to understand fundamental and applied biology of plants that behave as weeds in agricultural systems and as invasive species in natural areas.  Weed ecology research focuses on the complex factors that underlie the distribution and abundance of weedy and invasive plants.  Among the areas of interest are herbicide resistance management, non-chemical control methods, weed interactions with invertebrates, weed seed dormancy, the spatial and genetic structure of plant invasions, and agricultural risk assessment.

Faculty: John Cardina (w), Doug Doohan (w),  David Gardner (c), Kent Harrison (c), Mark Loux (c), Emilie Regnier (c).