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James Hancock - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

James Hancock James Hancock

Professor of Horticulture | Michigan State University


Expert in horticulture, specializing in the development of flavorful and long-lasting berries






UFplants17: Dr. James Hancock - Breeding strawberries and blueberries



James Hancock is a professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and MSU AgBioResearch expert blueberry breeder. Hancock’s innovations regarding these varieties of Northern Highbush blueberries represent highly productive means of generating flavorful and long-lasting blueberries. Approximately 20 million plants of these four varieties have been sold. Michigan has been the No. 1 blueberry-producing state for the last 70 years, partly due to the Hancock varieties.

Industry Expertise (5)

Writing and Editing Environmental Services Research Education/Learning Agriculture and Farming

Areas of Expertise (3)

Horticulture Blueberries Strawberries

Education (3)

University of California, Davis: Ph.D., Genetics

Miami University: M.S.

Baldwin-Wallace College: B.S.

Journal Articles (1)

Factors influencing Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of switchgrass cultivars Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture

Guo-qing Song, Aaron Walworth, James F. Hancock


To optimize Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation, factors influencing gene delivery, selection of transformed cells, and plant regeneration were investigated using two major switchgrass cultivars, including a lowland tetraploid cultivar Alamo and an upland octoploid cultivar Cave-in-Rock (CIR). Transient expression studies monitored by histochemical β-glucuronidase assay in seedling segments indicated that A. tumefaciens strain EHA105 was more effective in gene delivery than LBA4404 or GV3101. Of three major selectable genes, the bialaphos resistance (bar) gene and the hygromycin phosphotransferase (hpt) allowed effective selection of transformed cells using 2 mg l−1 glufosinate ammonium herbicide and 50 mg l−1 hygromycin, respectively; whereas the neomycin phosphotransferase II gene did not yield effective selection using 100 mg l−1 kanamycin. Herbicide- or hygromycin-resistant calluses were induced from seedling segments after 2–3 months of selection. Transformants of ‘Alamo’ with the bar or hpt were obtained 3–4 weeks after the resistant calluses were transferred onto regeneration medium; in contrast, no regenerant was produced from the calluses of ‘CIR’. Most of transformants showed normal growth in the greenhouse. Low percentages of mature seeds ranging from 1.7 to 8.7% of husks were obtained from open pollinated plants. Southern blot analysis confirmed stable integration of the bar in selected T0 transformants. Reverse transcription PCR and herbicide/hygromycin tolerance tests indicated expression of transgenes. The optimized transformation protocol using basal parts of seedling as explants shortened the process by 4–5 weeks, and it has potential use for transformation of other switchgrass cultivars.

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