Genome Project

D. coccinea

The American Dahlia Society (ADS) is currently working to sequence the dahlia genome. ADS is funding the DNA sequencing of the dahlia. This process determines the complete set of genes or genetic material in a cell or organism. In January 2017 the ADS donors met our first goal of $30,000 for the project.  To date we have raised $37,000 from 50 donors from 17 states and Canada.  With these funds, ADS will be sequencing 6 species dahlias and dahlia Edna C plus one more modern dahlia.

Dr. Walbot had two successful trips in October to collect species dahlia seeds in Mexico. It’s looking like she will have 12-13 species to choose from for the genome project. Currently, she is leaning towards towards the high quality genome sequencing using D.sorensenii. Originally she was thinking she would sequence D. coccinia in depth but it has wide variation in flower color, leaf shape, leaf size and stem properties.

Her first collection trip to Jalisco was with Professor Eduardo Ruiz Sanchez and his students at the University of Guadalajara along with Tim Culbertson, an expert taxonomist who was helpful in the herbarium evaluation work. Dr. Walbot was able to collect 6 of the 9 species dahlias she found there. Her seeds from this first trip went through USDA inspection and are stored at Stanford. (Here’s the list of dahlias she has seed from or other species found in the area: Dahlia coccinea, D. pugano (a new species recently described endemic to Jalisco and found once in a neighboring state), D. sorensenii, D. spectablilis and D. scapigera.  She also found D. brevis, D. merckii and D. australis in flower but with no mature seeds.  She also found seed from D. mollis but it didn’t match the key perfectly but will germinate so she can more carefully evaluate at flowering.) 

Dr. Walbot’s second trip to Morelos was with her Stanford colleague Professor Rodolfo Dirzo who was on sabbatical at the University of Morelos. Dr. Walbot was able to collect seed from 4 species. Two of these were repeats from the Jalisco trip.  (Collected species seed from that trip were: D. sorensenii at several location, and D.


Dr. Walbot and her assistant
check the plants in the Stanford U greenhouse

coccinea at several locations. D. rudis and D. tenuicaulis were in flower and Professor Dirzo will return in 3-4 weeks to collect seed.)  

In mid November Professor Dirzo will be in Queretaro and will collect with Professor Luis Hernandz. They expect to find 3 or 4 additional species. 

Dr. Walbot is currently working with Dr. Saar from Murray State University as she has done dahlia species work herself in Mexico. Dr. Walbot is planning to germinate the species seeds in February once they have had a chance to “cure” for a few months. She is planning on sending the DNA to the sequencing lab in March. Because the price for sequencing is becoming more competitive, Dr. Walbot is hoping we can sequence D. sorensenii in depth ($10,000), Edna C for $3,000, and 6 other species dahlias, a tree dahlia and one more modern dahlia for the $34,000 we have left in the Genome Project account.  

In early October, Dr. Pappu heard back from the National Science Foundation on the grant proposal and it wasn’t funded.  Dr. Walbot, Dr. Saar, and Dr. Pappu will consider resubmitting the grant which is typically done taking into account the critiques of the grant readers. 



If you are interested in helping fund this project give your gift today.  Please indicate on your check or donation that you would like to fund the genome project.  Please show your support and give a gift.  Send your donation to:

ADS Genome Project
American Dahlia Society
16816 Country Road 10
Bristol, IN 46507

or donate via Paypal:



ADS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 


More Info

Read more details

View (and print if desired) the Genome Information Tri-fold (pdf file)