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Eric Bishop von Wettberg

Posted by | March 13, 2021


Eric Bishop von Wettberg

Job Title:

Assistant Professor


Phone Number:



Google Scholar Profile


Dr. Eric JB von Wettberg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont with a research program focused on the consequences of genetic bottlenecks for wild relatives of crops. He received a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Brown University in 2007 and was a NIH National Research Service Award postdoc at the University of California at Davis from 2007-2009.  Broadly trained in evolution, genetics, ecology and agroecology, Dr. von Wettberg uses a combination of field, greenhouse common garden, and laboratory approaches.

Many crops, like the grain legumes chickpea and pigeonpea, have lost genetic variation as a result of human cultivation and selection. The lack of genetic variation reduces resilience of these crops to expected effects of climate change. Von Wettberg and his research group are using a new collection of the wild relatives of chickpea to restore genetic variation to cultivated chickpea, and to better understand the genetic basis of flowering time and drought tolerance. In addition to altering genetic variation of the crop, domestication likely had far reaching consequences on the biodiversity of communities in centers of domestication.  How changes in plants resulting from domestication altered above and belowground plant communities is little explored communities in centers of domestication, where extended periods of human agricultural activities and modification of “natural” systems have occurred.

Research Areas:

  • Domestication
  • Stress tolerance
  • Legumes
  • Chickpea
  • Medicago
  • Salt tolerance

Current N-related Projects:

  • Impact of domestication on chickpea-mesorhizobia nitrogen fixation


: von Wettberg EJ, Chang PL, Greenspan A, Carrasquila-Garcia N, Basdemir F, Moenga S, Bedada G, Dacosta-Calheiros E, Moriuchi KS, Balcha L, Mamo B, Singh V,Cordeiro MA, Vance L, Bergmann E,  Warschefsky EJ, Marques E, Dinegde KN, Sani SG, Getahun T, Yilmaz MA, Cacmak A, Rose J, Migneault A, Krieg CP, Saylak S, Temel H, Noujdina NV, Friesen ML, Siler E, Linday D, Akhmetov Z, Ozelik H, Kholova J, Can C, Caur P, Yildirim M, Sharma H, Vadez V, Tesfaye K, Woldemedhin AF, Tar’an B, Ayodogan A, Bekun B, Penmetsa RV, Berger J, Kahraman A, Nuzhdin SV, Cook DR.  Ecology and community genomics of an important crop wild relative as a prelude to agricultural innovation. Nature Communications, in press.

Krieg CP, Valls R, Vatland S, Gordnier J, Porter SS, Friesen ML, von Wettberg EJ. Nitrogen Fixation: Fixing the Gap Between Concept and Evidence Based Learning with Legume Biology.  American Biology Teacher, in press

Varshney RK, Saxena RK, Upadhyaya HD, Khan A, Yu O, Kim C, Rathore A, Seon D, Kim J, An S, Kumar V, Anauradha G, Yamini K, Zhang W, Muniswamy Z, Kim B, Penmetsa RV, von Wettberg EJ, and Datta SK. 2017. Whole genome re-sequencing of 292 pigeonpea cultivars, landraces and wild species accessions provides targets for domestication and genomic regions associated with agronomic traits for crop improvement. Nature Genetics, doi:10.1038/ng.3872

Moriuchi KS, Friesen ML, Cordeiro MA, Badri M, Vu WT, Main BA, Arraouadi S, Aouani ME, Nuzhdin SV, Cook DR, Strauss SY, von Wettberg EJ. 2016 Transgenerational plasticity for traits underlying salinity tolerance, local adaptation, and phenotypic integration in Medicago truncatula. PlosOne DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone. 015035

Friesen ML*, von Wettberg EJ*, Badri M*, Moriuchi KS, Barhoumi F, Cuellar-Ortiz S, Chang PL, Cordeiro MA, Vu WT, Arrouadi S, Djebali N, Zribi K, Badri Y, Porter SS, Aouani ME, Cook DR, Strauss SY, Nuzhdin SV. 2014 The ecological basis of salinity adaptation in Tunisian Medicago truncatula. BMC Genomics. 15: 1160.

Castro BM, Moriuchi KS, Friesen ML, Badri M, Nuzhdin SV, Strauss SY, Cook DR, von Wettberg EJ3. 2013. Parental environments and interactions with conspecifics alter salinity tolerance of offspring in the annual Medicago truncatula. Journal of Ecology 101: 1281–1287

Friesen ML, Porter SS, Stark SC, von Wettberg EJ, Sachs J, and Martinez-Romero, E. 2011. Microbially mediated functional plant traits. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics.  42: 23-46

Holdredge C, von Wettberg EJ, Bertness MB, Silliman BR. 2010. Differential nutrient uptake abilities underlie cryptic Phragmites invasion in New England salt marshes. Oikos. 119: 1776-1784.