New Stone Fruit Breeder at WSU Prosser Center

Nnadozie Oraguzie.
Nnadozie Oraguzie. Click image for a larger version.

PROSSER, Wash. – Nnadozie Oraguzie, a senior scientist at New Zealand’s state-owned horticulture research institution, has assumed duties as stone fruit breeder-geneticist at the Washington State University Prosser Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center. He will focus on development of new sweet cherry varieties suited for production in the Pacific Northwest.

“Dr. Oraguzie has an international reputation in his field of association genetics,” said Rick Knowles, professor and interim chair of WSU’s horticulture and landscape architecture department. “We were lucky to get him.”

“I’ve already met with some of the growers,” said Oraguzie, who started May 1. “I’m really looking forward to working with them to position them to lead the world in sweet cherries.”

Before coming to WSU, Oraguzie held several research positions at The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand, Limited, a commercially focused government research institute, including senior scientist in the Pipfruit Breeding Consortium, manager of the Hawkes Bay Research Center Molecular biology laboratory and Pipfruit Genetics laboratory and manager-curator of the Pipfruit gene bank collection.

In 2001, he studied fruit-ripening genes and their relationship to storage ability at the National Institute of Fruit Tree Science in Morioka under the auspices of a fellowship from the Japan Society for Promotion of Science. He received another fellowship from the Japan society in 2006 to map texture genes in apple.

At WSU, Oraguzie’s program will include the development and implementation of new genetic and genomic research tools that will assist in the creation of new varieties and maintenance and evaluation of existing stone fruit germplasm at Prosser.

Genomics is the study of the entire genome of an organism.

Oraguzie’s research will complement other breeding, genetics and genomics programs in the horticulture department that focus on apple, raspberry and strawberry, according to Knowles.

Oraguzie, a native of Nigeria, holds a doctorate in plant breeding and genetics from Lincoln University, New Zealand; a master’s of science degree in plant breeding and genetics from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; and a bachelor’s of science in botany from the University of Jos, Nigeria.