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Dr. Phillip Wadl

Phillip Wadl is a Research Geneticist ( at the USDA, ARS, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, SC. Phillip earned his B.S. and M.S. in Horticulture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech) in 2003 and 2005, respectively. Phillip later earned his Ph.D. in Plants Soils and Insects from the University of Tennessee in 2009. Today, he leads the sweetpotato breeding program, which has a primary emphasis on developing pest-resistant (insect and nematode) and weed-tolerant germplasm. Specific objectives are to: identify, develop, and release useful sweetpotato germplasm with resistance to soil insect pests, nematodes, or tolerance to weeds; and develop genetic/phenomic tools to facilitate the systematic improvement of sweetpotato. Basic and applied research approaches are used to identify sources of tolerance, resistance, or improved quality, to determine the genetics and nature of the respective traits, and to develop efficient breeding approaches for incorporating the traits into horticulturally acceptable germplasm. Molecular breeding techniques are used to complement conventional plant breeding approaches when applicable for more in-depth genetic study of tolerance, resistance, or quality factors and for more efficient incorporation of such factors into improved germplasm.

Phillip works closely with the USDA, ARS initiative hosted at Cornell University (, which was launched in 2018 to create new opportunities for specialty breeders in assimilating tools, technologies, and methods to catalyze the routine and accessible use of genomic insights. This partnership is using phenomics (trait analysis), genomics (genotypic data), data management, and software tools to his sweetpotato breeding program increase the rate of genetic gain.