Professor of Agronomy
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Fredy Altpeter is an expert in biotechnology and genome editing for crop improvement. Currently, Altpeter’s research program develops advanced precision crop breeding technologies, such as genome editing and metabolic engineering, to study genomes and improve crop sustainability and energy production.
His team has led a variety of interdisciplinary research endeavors, including cell wall deconstruction from biomass, as well as increasing energy density, stress tolerance and productivity of crops.
“My crop improvement contributions include improved grain, biomass and turf quality, photosynthetic efficiency, biotic and abiotic stress tolerance,” Altpeter said.
In other words, Altpeter’s research focuses on developing a myriad of ways to improve plant resilience — and, by extension, crop yield. Unlike other standard plant biotech technologies, genome editing is more precise than traditional plant breeding and subject to fewer regulatory constraints and costs.
Altpeter and his team recently pioneered the precision genome editing of sugarcane, which significantly increased biofuel production. In addition to being one of Florida’s most valuable crops, sugarcane is regarded as one of the prime sources in fueling the emerging bio-economy.
“These breeding technologies will accelerate crop improvement, which is pivotal to food, fiber and energy security, as well as the sustainability of crop production,” Altpeter said.
His lab continues to explore the application of genome editing for sugarcane, energy cane, sorghum, wheat, turf and forage grass improvement.
In the last five years, Altpeter has published 18 papers, two book chapters, 89 abstracts, four patent applications and one awarded patent. His work has been consistently supported by both the public and private sectors, receiving a total of $15.5 million in direct support of his research program.
Recently, Altpeter was named a Fellow of the Society for In Vitro Biology. He received the prestigious University of Florida Research Foundation Professorship in 2013, the Gamma Sigma Delta Senior Faculty award in 2016 and a UF High Impact Publication award in both 2014 and 2018. Most recently, he was elected C7 Division Chair in the Crop Science Society of America and Program Chair for the 2019 Society for In Vitro Biology congress. In recognition of his research excellence, he now serves on an advisory committee to the UF/IFAS Dean of Research.