Fredy Altpeter, Dr. Sc. Agr.

Professor of Agronomy

Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

2013 Awardee

Fredy Altpeter’s research is focused on the genetic improvement of commercially important grasses, including sugarcane, turf, forage and biomass/bioenergy grasses.

Altpeter’s program integrates molecular biology, biotechnology, plant breeding, and plant physiology for identification and incorporation of beneficial heredity units. Targeted traits include environmental and biotic stress tolerance for sustainable grass production, improvement of turf or biomass quality for increased value and performance, and genetic components controlling yield and conversion of grass biomass to bioenergy to reduce costs of biofuel production. Risk assessment and development of risk management strategies are essential components of this program and will protect natural environments and other cropping systems.

Altpeter’s research team has developed enabling biotechnologies for crop improvement. This includes genetic transformation technology, in vitro mutagenesis, and chromosome doubling protocols for grasses. Recent research focuses on the development of new biotechnologies, including targeted mutagenesis and intragenic technologies for crop improvement. These will accelerate the commercialization of genetically modified crops.

Altpeter also published the development of advanced genetic transformation protocols for sugarcane. Beside this laboratory research, Altpeter also manages a field research program where he utilizes conventional and molecular plant breeding techniques for improving the biomass yield, stress tolerance, and biosafety of napiergrass. This was achieved by crossing genetically distant napiergrass accessions and by interspecific hybridization of napiergrass and pearl millet.

Altpeter’s contributions to the genetic improvement of plants are well recognized by the fact that his knowledge of plant biotechnology and genetic improvement of grasses is sought out by the global leaders in the industry and by publications in top journals in the field. Altpeter’s recent peer-reviewed publications describe the generation of transgenic sugarcane with reduced lignin content. His findings led to drastically improved saccharification efficiencies for biofuel production, use of chloroplast transformation technology for high level in planta production of cell wall degrading enzymes with superior catalytic activity for biofuel applications, transgenic grasses with improved turf quality, insect resistance, enhanced salt and drought tolerance, herbicide resistance, and risk assessment and risk management of genetically improved grasses.