Moses Lake, WA 98837, USA

Genome database for Rosaceae plants

Staff Writer

MOSES LAKE —When opening a seed catalog, the number of varieties within a vegetable family may be a bit overwhelming. But with the help of pictures and written descriptions, selecting the right variety can be accomplished.

Over the past 15 years, scientists with Washington State University have been working on a Genome Database for Rosaceae (GDR) plants that works similarly to a seed catalog. The database allow researchers and scientists from all over the world to look up information about different plants, including how the plant grows, what color the fruit is, information on its genes and its DNA sequencing. Over the years, the GDR has become an international repository and has recognized worldwide as the database to use for genome information.

Jim McFerson, Director of the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, has worked on the GDR from the beginning.

“There are millions of pieces of information,” McFerson said. “GDR started off with Rosaceae crops. Dorrie Main (Associate Scientist/Associate Professor of Bioinformatics at Washington State University) has added other crops. From her point of view, data is data. She has built the structure or platform so other researchers can use it.”

As the GDR has grown, so has the contributor base.

“There are a lot of contributors,” said McFerson. “It can’t happen without a collaborative researchers network.”

Often, researchers who receive grant money are required to input their findings in the GDR as a condition of the grant.

Currently, the database has information on a wide variety of plants, including pears, strawberries, raspberries and apples, in addition to roses.

Rachal Pinkerton can be reached via email at