Richard McAvoy

Professor Emeritus of Horticulture

Dr. McAvoy has retired from the University and is no longer accepting graduate students or Postdoctoral researchers.


I joined the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture as an extension specialist for greenhouse crops in 1988 and served as Department Head starting in 2011. Prior to coming to UConn, I worked as a greenhouse grower-manager at Sugar Run Nursery in Morrow Ohio from 1976-1978 and then as a research associate in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Rutgers University from 1978-1988. My research focuses on issues related greenhouse crop production and crop improvement.


Applied biotechnology: New cultivars are being developed by introducing unique fusion genes to commercially valuable horticultural crops.

Controlled environment agriculture: Research is directed at understanding the effects of environmental conditions on the growth, development and chemical composition of horticultural crops.

Professional Positions & Education

  • 2003, Professor (25% research / 75% extension), Department of Plant Science, University of Connecticut
  • 1994 to 2003, Associate Professor University of Connecticut
  • 1988 to 1994, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut
  • 1978 to 1988, Research Associate, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Rutgers University
  • 1976-1978, Manager-Grower, Sugar Run Nursery, Morrow, Ohio


  • Ph. D. 1988, Horticulture, Rutgers University
    • Dissertation “Development of a Management Strategy for a Single Truss Tomato Production System”
  • M. S. 1982, Horticulture, Rutgers University
  • B. S. 1976, Horticulture, Rutgers University

Recent Honors and Special Activities

The Alex Luarie Award. Presented July 11, 1999 by the Ohio Florist’s Association for the most outstanding research paper published during 1998 in HortScience or the Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science titled “Poinsettia bract necrosis is affected by scion/rootstock combinations and arrested by a benzyladenine spray”. Richard McAvoy & Bernard Bible.

Third Place: Graduate Student Poster Competition, American Society for Horticultural Science, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 26, 1997. Usha Rani Palaniswamy*, Richard McAvoy and Bernard Bible. Omega-3-fatty acid concentration in Portulaca oleraceae L. is altered by the source of nitrogen in hydroponic solution.

Service Award. Presented January 18, 1996 by the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association “In Honor of … Extraordinary Service to the Greenhouse Growers of the State of Connecticut as ADVISOR to the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association”.

Distinguished Service Award. Presented January 28, 1992 by the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association “In Recognition of … Efforts in the Conception and Formation of the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association”.


United States Patent: No# 7,741,548. “Method and composition for increasing branching and flowering response in plants”. Inventors: Richard J. McAvoy, Mariya Khodakovskaya, and Yi Li. Issued June 22, 2010.

United States Patent: No# 5,130,925.  “Apparatus and Method for Economical Continuous, and Predictable Greenhouse Crop Production”.  Inventors: Harry W. Janes, Richard J. McAvoy and Michael S. Giniger.  Date of Patent: July 14, 1992.

Selected Grants

Yi Li & Richard McAvoy. Field Evaluation & Refinement of GM-Gene-Deletor Technology. USDA/CSREES Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grant Program $399,940 (2007-2011)

USDA SBIR Phase II Grant Proposal. Partial Saturation Ebb and flow Watering System for a Flooded Floor Greenhouse ($300,000 Geremia Greenhouses Inc, subcontract $25,000 for UConn).

Richard McAvoy. Improving Poinsettia Form & Flowering with Biotechnology. American Floral Endowment. $64,000. for 3 years beginning July 2005.

University of Massachusetts: Tina Smith, Paul Lopes, Douglas Cox, Roy Van Dreische, and Robert Wick

University of Connecticut: Leanne Pundt and Richard McAvoy. SARE Grant: $72,525 Funded May 2005

Developing unique & commercially valuable ornamental plants through genetic engineering.  R. McAvoy, Y. Wu, and Y. Li.  Connecticut Innovations, Inc. Critical technologies funding competition. $173,565 FY 02 & 03.

Recent Publications

Book Chapters

Li, Yi, Hui Duan, Yongqin Chen, and Richard McAvoy. 2013. Gene-Deletor Technology and Its potential Applications in Addressing Gene Flow and Food Safety Concerns over Transgenic Plants.  in Plant Gene Containment, Chapter 7 pp 101-112, (eds. Melvin J Oliver and Yi Li). Wiley-Blackwell, John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Li Y., Z. Cheng, W. Smith, D. Ellis, Y. Chen, L. Lu, R. McAvoy, Y. Pei, W. Deng, C. Thammina, X. Zheng, H. Duan, K. Luo and D. Zhao (2006): Problems and challenges of invasive ornamental plants and molecular tools to control their spread. In: Plant Biotechnology in Ornamental Horticulture. Y. Li and Y. Pei (eds). Haworth Press, New York.  pp.279-301.

Duan, H. Y. Li, Y. Pei, W. Deng, M. Luo, Y. Xiao, K. Luo, L. Lu, W. Smith, R. McAvory, D. Zhao, X. Zheng and C. Thammina (2006): Auxin, cytokinin and abscisic acid: biosynthetic and catabolic genes and their potential applications in ornamental crops. In: Plant Biotechnology in Ornamental Horticulture. Y. Li and Y. Pei (eds). Haworth Press, New York. pp. 347-364.

Li Y., Z. Cheng, W. Smith, D. Ellis, Y. Chen, L. Lu, R. McAvoy, Y. Pei, W. Deng, C. Thammina, X. Zheng, H. Duan, K. Luo and D. Zhao (2006): Invasive ornamental plants: problems, challenges, and biotech approaches to neutralize their invasiveness. In: Floriculture, Ornamental and Plant Biotechnology (1st Edition) Ed. by J.A. Teixeira da Silva, Vol III. Global Science Books, Japan. 399-406.

Li Y. , H. Duan, Y. H. Wu, R. J. McAvoy , Y. Pei, D. Zhao, J. Wurst, Q. Li, K. Luo (2004): Transgenics of Plant Hormones and Their Potential Application in Horticultural Crops. In: Genetically Modified Crops, their Development, Uses, and Risks. Ed. GH Liang and DZ Skinner. Haworth Press, New York. pp. 101-117.

McAvoy, Richard. 2001. Easter Lilies pp. 74-78 in ‘Tips on regulating growth of floriculture crops’. M. Gaston, editor.  OFA Services, Inc. Columbus OH

Yi Li, Yan H. Wu, Richard McAvoy, and Hui Duan. 2001.  “Transgenics In Crops” pp. 239-260 in Biotechnology Annual Review Vol. 7, M. R. EL-Gewely, editor. Elsevier Science B.V., The Netherlands

Gent, M.P.N. and McAvoy, R.J.  2000. Plant Growth Retardants in Ornamental Horticulture pp. 89-146 in Plant Growth Regulators in Agriculture and Horticulture: Their role and commercial uses. A. S. Basra, editor. Food Products Press, New York

Refereed Journal Articles

Gent M.P.N., W.H. Elmer, R.J. McAvoy. 2012. Water Use Efficiency with Rapid Watering of Potted Plants on Flooded. Acta Hort. 927: 101-108.

Elmer, W.H., M.P.N. Gent, R.J.McAvoy. 2012. Partial saturation under ebb and flow irrigation suppresses Pythium root rot of ornamentals. Crop Protection 33:29-33.

Chandra Thammina1, Mingyang He1, Litang Lu1, Kaishuang Cao, Hao Yu, Yongqin Chen, Liangtao Tian, Junmei Chen, Richard McAvoy, Donna Ellis, Degang Zhao, Yuejin Wang, Xian Zhang and Yi Li*. 2011. In Vitro Regeneration of triploid plants of Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’ (burning bush) from endosperm tissues. HortScience  46(8):1-7.

Martin Gent and Richard McAvoy. 2011. Water and Nutrient Uptake and Use Efficiency with Partial Saturation Ebb and Flow Watering. HortScience 46(5):791–798. 2011.

Martin Gent, Wade Elmer, Richard McAvoy.  2011. Rapid Watering to Achieve Partial Saturation of Root Medium on Flooded Floors. Acta Horticulturae 893:1065-1072.

Mariya Khodakovskaya, Radomira Vaňková, Jiři Malbeck, Aizhen Li, Yi Li, Richard McAvoy. 2009. Enhancement of flowering and branching phenotype in chrysanthemum by expression of ipt under the control of a 0.821 fragment of the LEACO1 gene promoter. Plant Cell Reports: 28: 1351-1362. DOI 10.1007/s00299-009-0735-x

Yongqin Chen, ., Litang Lu, ., Hui Duan, ., Wei Deng, ., R. McAvoy, ., W. Smith, ., C. Thammina, ., S. von Bodman, ., Yi Li, ., Dong Ye, . and Degang Zhao, . 2008. Biotech approach to neutralize the invasiveness of burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) , a progress report on development of its genetic transformation system and functional analysis of sterile genes. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 769:21-29

Luo K., H. Duan, D. Zhao, X. Zheng, W. Deng, Y. Chen, R. McAvoy, X. Jiang, Y. Wu, Y. Pei and Y. Li (2007): A highly efficient system to delete all functional transgenes from pollen of tobacco plants. Acta Horticulturae. 764: 21-31.

Xuelian Zheng, Wei Deng, Keming Luo, Hui Duan, Yongqin Chen, Richard McAvoy, Shuiqing Song ,Yan Pei, Yi Li. (2007): The cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter sequence alters the level and patterns of activity of adjacent tissue- and organ-specific gene promoters. Plant Cell Rep. 26(8):1195-1203.

Keming Luo, Hui Duan, Degang Zhao, Xuelian Zheng, Wei Deng, Yongqin Chen, C. Neal Stewart Jr, Richard McAvoy, Xiangning Jiang, Yanhong Wu, Aigong He, Yan Pei, and Yi Li.  (2007). ‘GM-gene-deletor’: fused loxP-FRT recognition sequences dramatically improve efficiency of FLP or CRE recombinase on transgene excision from pollen and seed of tobacco plants. Plant Biotechnology Journal 5 (2): 263-274.  (

Yongqin Chen, Litang Lu, Wei Deng, Xingyu Yang, Richard McAvoy, Degang Zhao, Yan Pei, Keming Luo, Hui Duan, William Smith, Chandra Thammina, Xuelian Zheng, Donna Ellis, Yi Li (2006): In vitro regeneration and Agrobacterium-mediated genetic transformation of Euonymus alatus. Plant Cell Reports. 25:1043-1051 (

Duan, H. Y. Li, Y. Pei, W. Deng, M. Luo, Y. Xiao, K. Luo, L. Lu, W. Smith, R. McAvoy, D. Zhao, X. Zheng and C. Thammina (2006): Auxin, Cytokinin and Abscisic Acid: Biosynthetic and Catabolic Genes and Their Potential Applications in Ornamental Crops. Journal of Crop Improvement. 18:347-364.

Li Y., Z. Cheng, W. Smith, D. Ellis, Y. Chen, L. Lu, R. McAvoy, Y. Pei, W. Deng, C. Thammina, X. Zheng, H. Duan, K. Luo and D. Zhao (2006): Problems and Challenges of Invasive Ornamental Plants and Molecular Tools to Control Their Spread. Journal of Crop Improvement. 17:279-300.

Mariya  Khodakovskaya    Degang Zhao William Smith Yi Li Richard  McAvoy  (2006). Expression of ipt gene controlled by an ethylene and auxin responsive fragment of the LEACO1 promoter increases flower number in transgenic Nicotiana tabacum. Plant Cell Reports 25:1181-1192. (online Journal

Khodakovskaya, Mariya, Richard McAvoy, Jeanne Peters, Hao Wu and Yi Li. 2006. Enhanced cold tolerance in transgenic tobacco expressing a chloroplast ω-3 fatty acid desaturase gene under the control of a cold-inducible promoter. Planta 223:1090-1100. (online Journal )

Luo K, Zheng X, Chen Y, Xiao Y, Zhao D, McAvoy R, Pei Y, Li Y. (2006): The maize Knotted1 gene is an effective positive selectable marker gene for Agrobacterium-mediated tobacco transformation. Plant Cell Rep. 25(5):403-409. Epub 2005 Dec 21.

Khodakovskaya, Mariya, Yi L1, Jisheng Li, Radomíra Vaňková, Jiří Malbeck and Richard McAvoy. 2005. Effects of cor15a-IPT Gene Expression on Leaf Senescence in Transgenic Petunia x hybrida and Dendranthema x grandiflorum. Journal of Experimental Botany 2005 56(414):1165-1175; doi:10.1093/jxb/eri109 pp. 1-11 (online journal

McAvoy, Richard, Maria Khodakovskaya, Yi Li, Yan Wu, and Song Xue.  2003. Phenotypic Characterization of Petunia Plants Expressing a Indoleacetic Acid (IAA)-lysine Synthetase Transgene Driven by a Shoot Specific Promoter. Acta Horticulturae 625: 379-385.

Palaniswamy, Usha Rani, Richard J. McAvoy, Bernard B. Bible, and James D. Stuart. 2003. Ontogenic Variations of Ascorbic Acid and Phenethyl Isothiocyanate Concentrations in Watercress (Nasturtium officinale R.Br.) Leaves. J. Agric. Food Chemistry. 51:5504-5509.

Palaniswamy, Usha R., Bernard B. Bible and Richard J. McAvoy. 2002. Effect of Nitrate:Ammonium Nitrogen Ratio on Oxalate Levels in Purslane. in “Trends in New Crops and New Uses.” Jules Janick and Anna Whipkey, editors.  ASHS Press, Alexandria VA.  pp. 453-455.

Palaniswamy, Usha Rani, Richard J. McAvoy and Bernard B. Bible. 2001. Stage of Harvest and Polyunsaturated Essential Fatty Acid Concentrations in Purslane (portulaca oleraceae) Leaves. J. Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 49(7):3490-3493.

Palaniswamy, Usha R. and Richard J. McAvoy. 2001. Watercress: A salad crop with chemopreventive potential. HortTechnology 11(4):622-626.

Palaniswamy, Usha Rani, Richard J. McAvoy and Bernard B. Bible. 2001. Omega-3-Fatty Acid Concentration in (Portulaca oleracea) is Altered by photosynthetic photon flux.  J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci.  126(5):537-543.

Ellis, Donna,  Richard McAvoy, Luma Abu Ayyash, Melisa Flanagan, and Matt Ciomperlik. 2001.  Evaluation of Serangium parcesetosum (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) for biological control of silverleaf whitefly, Bemisis argentifolii (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae), on poinsettia. The Florida  Entomologist 84(2):215-221.

Palaniswamy, Usha Rani, Richard J. McAvoy and B. Bible. 2000. Leaf Yield and Fatty Acid Composition of Purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) at Different Growth Stages.  J. Tropical Agriculture 38(2000):1-4.

Palaniswamy, Usha Rani, Richard J. McAvoy and Bernard B. Bible. 2000. Omega-3-Fatty Acid Concentration in Portulaca oleracea L. is Altered by Nitrogen Source in Hydroponic Solution.  J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 125(2):190-194.

McAvoy, R.J., B.B. Bible, and M. Evans. 1998. Localized accumulation of condensed  tannins associated with poinsettia bract necrosis.  J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 123(5): 916-920.

McAvoy, R.J. and B.B. Bible.   1998. Poinsettia bract necrosis is affected by scion/rootstock combinations and arrested by a benzyladenine spray. HortScience 33(2):242-246.

Palaniswamy, Usha, Richard McAvoy, and Bernard Bible. 1997.  Supplemental light before harvest increases phenethyl isothiocyanate in watercress under 8-h photoperiod. HortScience 32(2):222-223.

McAvoy, R.J. and B.B. Bible. 1996.  Silica sprays reduce the incidence and severity of bract necrosis in poinsettia. HortScience 31(7):1146-1149.

Palaniswamy, Usha, Richard McAvoy, Bernard Bible, Suman Singha, and Dennis Hill.  1995.  Phenylethyl isothiocyanate concentration in watercress (Nasturtium officinale R.Br.) is  altered by the nitrogen to sulfur ratio in hydroponic solution. in Phyochemicals and Health, DL Gustine, HE Flores, eds, Copyright 1995, American Society of Plant Physiologists.  Vol.15 pp. 280-283,

Yang, X., K.M. Ducharme, R.J. McAvoy, G. Elliott,  D.R. Miller.  1995.  Effect of aerial conditions and heat and mass exchange between plants and air in greenhouses.  Transactions of the ASAE  38(1):225-229.

McAvoy, Richard J.  1994.  NO3-N movement through the soil profile beneath a containerized greenhouse crop irrigated with two leaching fractions and two wetting agent levels.  J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci.  119(3):446-451.

Elliott, G.C., R.J. McAvoy, and M. Abbot.  1994. Comparison of spurway and saturated media extracts of soilless media.  Commun. Soil Sci. and Plant Anal. 25(9&10):1255-1276.

Brand, M.H., R.J. McAvoy, and E.G. Corbett.  1993.  Nitrate loading to the soil profile underlying two containerized nursery crops supplied controlled release fertilizer. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 11(2):82-85.

Yang, X., K.M. Ducharme, G. Elliott, R.J. McAvoy  and D.R. Miller.  1993.  Air flow mode and heat and water transfer in greenhouses.  Amer. Soc. Agric. Eng. Paper No. 93-4517, ASAE, St. Joseph, MI.

McAvoy, R.J., M.H. Brand, E.G. Corbett, J.W. Bartok, Jr. and A. Botacchi.  1992.  Effect of Leachate Fraction on Nitrate Loading to the Soil Profile Underlying a Greenhouse Crop. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 10(3):167-171.

McAvoy, R.J. 1992. In Situ Plant Canopy and Potting Medium Temperature Changes Under Two Different Greenhouse Air Temperature Regimes.  HortScience 27(8):918-920.

Janes, H.W. and R.J. McAvoy. 1991.  Environmental Control of a Single-Cluster Greenhouse Tomato Crop. HortTechnology 1(1):110-114.

McAvoy, R.J.  1991. Response of Easter Lily to Preplant Incorporation of Uniconazole into the Planting Medium. HortScience 26(2):152-154.

McAvoy, R. J., H. W. Janes.  1990.  Glucose Metabolism And Pyridine Nucleotide Levels In Potato Tubers Treated With Ethylene.  J. of Plant Physiology 135:759-762.

McAvoy, R.J. and H.W.Janes. 1990. Cumulative Light Effects on Growth and Flowering of Tomato Seedlings.  J. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. 115(1):119-122.

McAvoy, R.J., H.W.Janes, G.A.Giacomelli and M.S. Giniger.  1989.  Validation of a Computer Model for a Single Truss Tomato Cropping System.  J. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. 114(5):746-750.

McAvoy, R.J., Harry W. Janes, Bruce L. Godfriaux, Margaret Secks, Darlene Duchai and Wayne K. Wittman.  1989. The Effect of Total Available Photosynthetic Photon Flux on Single Truss Tomato Growth and Development.  J.Hortic. Sci. 64(3):331 338.

McAvoy, R.J., H.W.Janes. 1989.  Tomato Plant Photosynthetic Activity as Related to Canopy Age and Tomato Development.  J. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. 114(3):478 482.

Giniger, M.S., R.J. McAvoy, G.A. Giacomelli and H.W. Janes.  1988.  Computer Simulation of a Single Truss Tomato Cropping System.  Trans. Am. Soc. Ag. Eng. 31(4):1176 1179.

McAvoy, R.J. and H.W. Janes.  1988.  Alternative Production Strategies For Greenhouse Tomatoes Using Supplemental Lighting.  Scientia Hort. 35:161 166.

Janes, H. W. and R. J. McAvoy.  1983.  Deleterious Effects of Cool Air Temperature Reversed by Root Zone Warming in Poinsettia. HortSci.18(3):363 364.

Janes, H. W. and R. J. McAvoy.  1982.  Effect of Root Zone Heating on Growth of Poinsettia.  J. Am. Soc. Hort. Sci. 107(3):525 530.

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