Jim Myers

Professor, Vegetable Breeding and Genetics
james.myers [at] oregonstate.edu

Office: 541-737-3083

We develop improved vegetable varieties with the main focus being to support gardeners, growers and processors in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). This region of the United States has a unique growing environment, and varieties developed elsewhere may not necessarily be optimally adapted to the PNW. We have breeding programs on snap beans, snap peas, broccoli, tomatoes peppers and cucurbits. We breed vegetable for both processing (snap beans, broccoli) and fresh market (snap peas, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, summer and winter squash) producers. My academic interests include understanding crop adaptation to organic production systems, enhancing human nutrition in vegetables, improving taste and flavor in vegetables and incorporating resistance to the major pathogens of our region. We use a combination of traditional plant breeding techniques combined with genomics and bioinformatics tools. Some of our breeding objectives are to:

  • Increasing the availability of organically produced vegetable seed by identifying and breeding varieties adapted to organic systems.
  • Engaging farmers and chefs in the breeding process through participatory plant breeding.
  • Breeding vegetables for improved human health, taste and quality.
  • Evaluating and selecting for disease resistance in vegetable crops.

Most Significant Service, Professional Activities, and Accomplishments (since 1988)

  • I have developed and released 17 dry bean, one snap bean, one broccoli hybrid, three edible podded pea cultivars and six tomato cultivars. One tomato cultivar (co-released with Dr. J.R. Baggett) is ‘Legend’, an early, large fruited, parthenocarpic, determinate slicer with late blight resistance.
  • My graduate students and I were the first to create high anthocyanin tomatoes using conventional breeding approaches. Tomato fruit typically do not have anthocyanins but these have elevated levels of anthocyanin in the epidermis and may appear as black as an eggplant. The first release of this kind – ‘Indigo Rose’ has been available in the U.S. since 2012 and is now moving into global markets. Subsequent releases have been ‘Indigo Cherry Drops’, Indigo Pear Drops’ ‘Indigo Kiwi’ and ‘Midnight Roma’. Other breeders are releasing these types of tomatoes but nearly all tomatoes in this class originate from germplasm from my program.
  • The green bean cultivar OSU 5630 released in 2005, is the predominant bush blue lake green bean grown by Oregon processors on about 10,000 acres each year.
  • I am project director for the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC), a USDA-NIFA-OREI funded project to breed and trial vegetable varieties adapted to organic production systems across the northern U.S. We are in our 3rd four-year cycle of funding with the project. The project uses a farmer participatory research model through techniques such as mother-daughter trials.
  • I worked on dry bean genetic improvement projects in Eastern and Southern Africa for more than 27 years. In cooperation with researchers at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro Tanzania, we transferred resistance to bean seed weevils (bruchids) from wild tepary bean into common bean with support from the US-AID funded Bean/Cowpea CRSP. In efforts now supported by the McKnight Foundation, we have developed bean adapted to eastern and southern Africa that do not succumb to weevil pressure at harvest and in storage.

Grants and Program Support

  • My support total at OSU (1996-2020) has been $2,622,305 in non-peer reviewed grants and $9,882,261 (my portion only) in competitive peer reviewed grants.
  • My program is supported by the Baggett-Frazier endowment established by the Oregon processed vegetable industry.

Profile Field Tabs

Affiliated with: 
Do you accept grad students?: 
I accept graduate students for Horticulture
Courses Taught: 
  • Hort 433/533, Systematics and Adaptations of Vegetable Crops, offered fall term.
  • PGB 556, Crop Plant Domestication, offered spring term of even numbered years.
  • PBG 557, Plants and Patents, offered spring term of odd numbered years.
  • I have provided guest lectures on organic plant breeding, intellectual property issues and plant biotechnology, breeding beans and broccoli, and vegetables and grain legumes of the world.

Extended Education

I provide talks to students, growers, and master gardener meetings upon invitation. Selected examples of recent invited presentations include:

  • What’s New at OSU? - Recent and upcoming vegetable variety releases. PNVA (virtual) 11/19/20
  • NOVIC program, Organic Confluences Summit, The Organic Center/FFAR meeting, Baltimore, MD 9/10 – 9/11/19 (invited presentation)
  • Northern organic vegetable improvement collaborative, OFRF Organic Agricultural Research Forum, Organicology, Portland, OR 2/16/2019
  • Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative as a model for breeding and trialing vegetable varieties for fresh market organic systems, Washington Tilth, Spokane, WA 11/9/18 (invited)
  • Intellectual property protection basics. Cascades grain conference, Olympia, WA, 1/20/18 (invited)
  • Mechanizing Vegetable Crop Harvest: A Case Study with Broccoli. PNVA meetings, Kennewick, WA, 11/15/17
  • Trends in Intellectual Property Protection in Plant Breeding. National Association of Plant Breeders webinar series, https://www.plantbreeding.org/content/webinar-series. 4/26/2017
  • (With L. Hoagland, D. Egel, J. Dawson, J. Zystro & L. McKenzie), Tomato Organic Management and Improvement Project (TOMI): Tomato Varietal Improvement Webinar on Demand. eOrganic webinar (https://eorganic.info/node/22162). 3/7/2017
  • The interface of art and science in vegetable breeding. Departmental seminar, OSU Corvallis, OR 2/27/17
  • Models in breeding vegetables for organic systems, invited seminar, Plant Science Dept., Univ. California-Davis, 2/6/17 (invited)
  • Breeder to Seeder to Feeder to Eater: Breeding Better Vegetables, Department of Horticulture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 10/13/16 (invited)
  • (With L. Selman & F. Morton), A conversation & tasting with plant breeders, Thomas Douglas Restaurant Group, Palace Ballroom, Seattle, WA 9/28-29/16
  • (With Lane Selman, & Tim Wastell), Varietal Tasting & Culinary Breeding Network, Specialty Crop Block Grant National Meeting, Portland OR 8/24/16
  • (With L. Selman), OSU Vegetable Breeding Program Tasting, Crop up market showcase Food Innovation Center, Portland OR 8/24/16
  • Intellectual Property and Funding Public Plant Breeding Programs, Seeds and Breeds, Raleigh NC 8/13-15/16.
  • Alternative vegetable crops Green Pea Meeting, Milton-Freewater, OR 2/16/16
  • Vegetable Breeding Research Updates & Breeding Better Brassicas, 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference: Corvallis, OR, 2/5/16-2/6/16
  • (With M. Mazourek & L. Selman), Clif Bar Family Foundation Seed Matters Dinner. St. Helena, CA 10/17/15
  • Culinary Breeding Network: bridging the gap between breeders and eaters. Eugene Small scale urban farming series, Lane County Extension Office, Eugene, OR 03/31/15
  • Breeding Organic Vegetables, FRED Talks: OSU Small Farms Conference, Corvallis, OR, 02/28/15
  • What do you want to breed today? New vegetable varieties for PNW gardeners. Spring into Gardening, Yamhill County Master Gardeners, McMinnville, OR, 03/14/15

Graduate Students Advised (since 1996)

  • Major Professor or co-Advisor to 10 Ph.D., 16 M.S. and 1 M.Ag. students (4 M.S. and 1 Ph.D. in progress):
  • Committee Member for 8 Ph.D., 9 M.S., and 1 M.Ag. students
  • External Examiner for three students (2 Ph.D., 1 M.S.; Canada and Malawi)

Undergraduate Students Directed Research (since 1996)

  • 27 students (22 senior thesis, 5 honors college) at OSU.

Postgraduate training

  • 2 post-graduate scholars (supported by Borlaug Fellowship Program, and UNESCO Biotechnology Program)
My Publications
Proceedings and Conference Presentations: 
  • American Society of Horticultural Science meetings
  • Bean Improvement Cooperative
  • Crop Science Society of America
  • Crucifer Crop Germplasm Committee
  • North American Pulse Improvement Association
  • North Willamette Processed Vegetable Grower meetings
  • Pacific Northwest Vegetable Growers Association
  • Phaseolus Crop Germplasm Committee
  • Pisum Crop Germplasm Committee
  • Seeds and Breeds for the 21st Century
  • W-3150 Genetic Improvement of Beans