Research Scientist Seeks to Improve Yield and Quality of Sweet Potatoes

Dr.GaoPRAIRIE VIEW, TX – Seeking knowledge-based solutions to improve the yield and quality of sweet potatoes is the major research focus of one of the College of Agriculture and Human Sciences’ newest members, Dr. Ming Gao. Coming on board in August, 2012 as a research scientist, Dr. Gao brings his extensive research experience in sweet potato genomics and biotechnology to expand and enhance Prairie View A&M University’s research in basic and applied plant sciences.

“My research will help us understand how the formation of storage roots, commonly called sweet potatoes, is initiated and regulated genetically in sweet potato plants,” said Gao. “In other words, discovering why some of the plants produce sweet potatoes and why some do not will assist us in devising novel ways to cultivate the plant to have a better yield as well as having a more uniform shape and size.”

Dr. Gao is also working on revealing the genetic mechanism that determines the amount and type of starch produced in sweet potatoes. Gao said that through breeding and genetic engineering, his research could lead to novel value-added cultivars that produce the desired amount of starch or starch with special properties or nutritional values.

Dr. Gao has a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from Pennsylvania State University, a M.S. in Biology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in Botany from Zhongsheng University in China. He has had extensive postdoc research training in biotechnology, genetic and genomics research on corn, wheat and green algae in world-class academic and private research laboratories in the United States, Canada, France and Germany before he started sweet potato research.

He was previously a senior research scientist /coordinator at the Center for Biotechnology and Genomics at Alcorn State University and led the research group to attract more than $3 million of external research funding from 2005 to 2012.

Dr. Gao has authored and co-authored numerous publications and is recognized internationally in his research field. He currently serves as a member of the editorial board for the “Journal of Biotech Research”, and has been a panelist for several biotechnology-related grant programs of the United States Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Department of Energy in recent years.

For more information contact Dr. Gao at


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