First-year assistant professor of biological sciences Hagop Atamian, Ph.D., received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) to utilize natural resources in agricultural productivity.
A plethora of microorganisms in the soil interact with plant roots and help them grow better, and so far scientists have only scratched the surface. As part of the NSF funded project, Dr. Atamian’s group (in collaboration with Dr. Venkatesan Sundaresan; University of California, Davis) will conduct genomic and physiological experiments to better understand the molecular mechanisms and the evolution of these interactions.
“A better understanding of these interactions and how to manipulate them may allow for improved agricultural productivity through efficient interaction with certain natural microbes.” – Dr. Hagop Atamian
In a separate project funded by the USDA-NIFA and in collaboration with Dr. Joseph Cahill, Dr. Atamian’s team will generate genomic resources for future Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) breeding programs. Chia seeds are gaining popularity worldwide, particularly in the US, as a healthy oil and food supplement for human and animal consumption due to its healthy oil composition, high protein, fiber, and antioxidant contents.
“The diverse population of S. hispanica plants growing in nature presents valuable opportunity to genetically improve the varieties currently cultivated using modern plant breeding approaches” – Dr. Hagop Atamian
However, the lack of having a genetic map has hindered the breeding process. In this project, Dr. Atamian’s team will generate a high-density genetic map which will be applied to future genomics-enabled breeding efforts towards value-added improvements of S. hispanica tailored to industry needs.
“I am very grateful for the support of NSF and USDA-NIFA funding agencies which will enable me to conduct cutting-edge research with my undergraduates and provide them valuable hands-on research experience. Finally, I thank the Chapman Community for making my first year at Chapman University so enjoyable and productive with special thank you to Dr. Jennifer Funk (director of the biological sciences program) for her continuous support.” – Dr. Hagop Atamian
Dr. Atamian joined Chapman University in 2018. He received his master of science in plant protection, faculty of agriculture and food science from American University of Beirut and completed his Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the University of California, Riverside.