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Research Overview

The Christmas Tree Genetics Program utilizes modern genomic technologies and approaches to advance the goals of the Christmas tree industry in the state of North Carolina and the U.S. through the application of genetic principles.

The Whitehill Lab – Christmas Tree Genetics Program in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University is a cutting-edge Forest Health Genomics research lab.


We integrate genetic, genomic, molecular, biochemical, microscopic, ecological, entomological, and pathological techniques with conventional tree breeding strategies.


We utilize functional and quantitative genomics approaches, informed through transcriptomic and bioinformatics analyses to dissect tree resilience mechanisms.

Experiments are facilitated by targeted experimentation that characterizes host responses at the relevant stage in tree development and its interaction with a pest. This multi-pronged approach employs a range of techniques that explore the biological and ecological interactions between a pest and its host that range from the landscape to the function of individual molecules while exploring the biochemical and molecular responses of both organisms.

Fraser fir cone collected from the Upper Mountain Research Station