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Jessica W. Wright

Jessica W. Wright
Research Geneticist Plants
Conservation of Biodiversity Program
1731 Research Park Dr.
Davis, CA 95618-6132
United States
Current Research

As a conservation geneticist, I use genetic tools to understand population responses to threats in our nation's forested ecosystems. These threats include climate change, pathogens and environmental stress.

Common garden and field studies: Provenance tests are common gardens containing trees grown from seed collected from multiples sources across the species range, allow for the comparison of many different genotypes in a common environment. PSW has been establishing these types of studies since 1938. I am focusing on historical tests planted by PSW as well as establishing a new test we are working to establish in Valley Oaks to understand how trees might respond to a changing climate. I also used a common garden study in Tanoaks to help understand how traits measured in a nursery setting- including growth and resistance to the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death- might predict performance in a field setting in the presence of SOD. In the field, we are looking at the importance of insect pollinator communities in Tanoak forests impacted by SOD.

Genomics: The phenotypes measured in common garden studies are the products of genes. I am using genomic tools (Genotyping by Sequencing and Transcriptomics) to understand the relationships between tree traits, local climate, genes and gene expression. Along with my collaborators, we are addressing a range of questions. What is the association between climate and allele frequencies in koa in Hawaii and valley oak in California? What is the association with allele frequencies and traits in valley oaks? What genes are expressed when a tanoak leaf is infected with the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death? What genes are expressed in sugar pine trees from Oregon, California and Mexico when they are all grown in the same environment? The answers to these questions will help our understanding of the genetics underlying tree responses to climate, and how populations might be impacted by a changing climate.

  • Rutgers University, Ph.D., , 2000
  • Amherst College, B.A., Magna Cum Laude, 1994
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Sequencing the transcriptome of tanoak seedlings infected with Phytophthora ramorum

Year: 2011
We have sequenced and assembled the transcriptome of Notholithocarpus densiflorus (tanoak) as well as the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum). A transcriptome is all the genes being expressed in an organism at any given time- it summaries the molecular machinery being used a...

Historic Critchfield Memorial Herbarium Goes Digital: Believed to Be the Largest Collection of Pine Specimens in the World

Year: 2010
The USDA Forest Service's Pacific SouthwestResearch Station, Institute of Forest Genetics, Placerville, CA, has released the online version of its historic Critchfield Memorial Herbarium. The website includes collection information as well Memorial Herbarium. Note the collection has a photograph of ...

Do Insects Visit and Pollinate Tanoak Flowers

Year: 2012
The knowledge is key for informed conservation of the species