Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
David Douches is the lead scientist of MSU's potato breeding and genetics project, directing a multidisciplinary program that integrates conventional breeding and cutting-edge biotechnological approaches to developing improved cultivars. To advance new breeding methodologies through genetic engineering and marker technologies, Douches's research has examined the genetic basis of insect and disease resistance traits as well as tuber quality. Under his leadership, 15 potato varieties have been released, many of which satisfy the industry's need for pest and disease resistance, particularly to the Colorado potato beetle, scab, late blight and the PVY virus.
With 102 peer-reviewed journal articles, nine book chapters and three Extension bulletins published, the breadth of Douches's research activities from the laboratory to the field has been a model for other plant breeding programs.
David Douches was the director of the Solanaceae Coordinated Agricultural Project (SolCAP) which was supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Applied Plant Genomics CAP Program of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The project was awarded $5.4 million dollars between 10/1/2008 through 8/31/2012. SolCAP succeeded in linking together people from public institutions, private institutions and industries dedicated to the improvement of the Solanaceae crops: potato and tomato. Through innovative research, education and training the SolCAP project focused on translating genomic advances to US tomato and potato breeding programs. The impact of this research is leading to significantly improved varieties that benefit the processors, the consumer and the environment. The SolCAP project was the recipient of the 2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary of Agriculture's Honor Award. The Honor Awards are the most prestigious awards presented by the Secretary of Agriculture and recognize exceptional leadership, contributions, or public service.
Recognized as a global leader in the field of potato research, Douches has been invited to speak in China, India, Egypt, South Africa, Scotland, Peru, Brazil, Switzerland, Ecuador, and Argentina. He has been involved in an international development project that is using biotechnology to improve the lives of farmers in Africa. He was Co-PI of the USAID-funded Bt Potato Project that is awaiting approval of the regulatory dossier for general release of the variety SpuntaG2, which includes resistance to the potato tuber moth.
Douches developed and teaches a lab-based biotechnological techniques and principles course. He is part of a team of faculty to train graduate students in genetics and expose them to the social, ethical, and ecological issues of genetically engineered organisms through the USDA National Needs Fellowships program. Douches currently has four graduate students and has graduated eight Ph.D. and 14 M.S. students. He is director of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology interdepartmental graduate program.