Genetics pioneer

Editor’s note: This video profile is part of a series about UGA faculty who were named Distinguished Research Professors in 2017.

Peggy Ozias-Akins, professor of horticulture, is widely recognized as a world expert on apomixis, the asexual production of seeds in plants. Although the phenomenon was intensely studied for decades, there was little to show for these efforts.

Ozias-Akins took a pioneering approach and applied a combination of forward genetics, genetic engineering and genomics to the problem. She was among the first to ever localize apomixis to a chromosomal region, and later she found the first plant gene associated with apomixis.

Her work lays the foundation to begin research into systematic application of apomixis in plant breeding, which could have enormous impact on agriculture in both advanced and developing nations.

Ozias-Akins has been equally successful in applying the biotechnological and molecular biology tools that she has developed to specific cases of crop improvement, most notably the peanut. Her decades-long focus on peanut improvement has had significant scientific, agricultural and economic impact.