Professor Steven Tanksley ForMemRS

Steven Tanksley is a molecular geneticist focused on selective plant breeding to achieve the genetic improvement of crops. Steven made the first molecular maps of tomato and rice, and identified and cloned a disease resistance gene for tomatoes — the first time it had been done in a major crop plant.

Steven pioneered the use of molecular genetics in plant breeding. With a technique developed for the Human Genome Project, he found the genetic source of natural ‘speck’ disease resistance in tomatoes. He was also the first to identify matched location of genes in the chromosomes of different plant species — potato and tomato, and rice and maize.

Steven is Professor Emeritus at Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is a founding member and CEO of Nature Source Genetics, a company that serves the agro industry by providing breeding services for genetic optimisation of plants and animals.

Subject groups

  • Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology

    Developmental biology, Genetics (excluding population genetics), Cytogenetics

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology

    Plant sciences / botany, Evolution, Agricultural and forest science


  • Wolf Prize

    In the field of agriculture for innovative development of hybrid rice and discovery of the genetic basis of heterosis in this important food staple.

Professor Steven Tanksley ForMemRS
Elected 2009