DALLAS — Dr. Wayne Mackay, a Texas A&M horticulture researcher who helped bring the long-stemmed bluebonnet to the Texas floral trade, has joined the research staff at Texas A&M-Dallas.
“Dr. Mackay brings to the Dallas Center a good balance between basic science and applied horticulture,” said Dr. Tim Davis, resident director of research at the Texas A&M Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Dallas.
“Dr. Mackay’s value to our urban horticulture research will be his breadth of experience. Not only has he worked in molecular biology and biotechnology, he is well grounded in the management of a commercial nursery operation. We expect he will build important linkages between our research science community and the Texas nursery industry.”
“At the Dallas center, I hope to focus on looking for new plants for the nursery industry,” said Mackay. “The pink bluebonnet is under commercial evaluation right now. And we’re working on laboratory cloning of a perennial phlox for home gardens. We’ll be evaluating native plants not now in the nursery market because of propagation problems. Our tissue culture work is aimed at solving those problems. If nurseries can produce a reliable crop, then consumers can buy new plants that use less water and require little or no chemicals.”
Mackay was previously an assistant professor of horticulture at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in El Paso for six years. Part of his work there included adapting the long-stemmed bluebonnet for use as a cut flower. The long-stemmed bluebonnet, a true Texas native, originates in the Big Bend area of West Texas. A blue flower for floral arrangements is difficult to find and creates a completely new crop for the nursery industry in Texas.
Mackay holds a doctoral degree in horticulture from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in plant science from the University of Delaware, and a bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
He is a member of the American and International Societies for Horticultural Science, Texas Native Plant Society, and the Society for In Vitro Biology. He serves as a reviewer for the Journal of American Society of Horticultural Science, HortScience and Euphytica, as well as on the steering committee of the Plant Growth Regulation Society. Mackay replaces Dr. Tim Davis, who shared the bluebonnet research effort and now serves as resident director of research at the Dallas center.