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Dr. Scott Merkle

Professor, Forest Biology

Contact Information

Dr. Scott Merkle

Contact Dr. Scott Merkle


Campus address

Warnell 3-503
Lab Location:
Warnell 3-519
Ph.D. in Forestry - Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
M.S. in Forestry - Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
B.S. in Biology - College of William and Mary


Research Areas Detail:

In vitro propagation of forest trees
Somatic embryogenesis in forest trees
Biotechnology for restoration of threatened tree species

Recent Citations:

Lu, S., and S.A. Merkle. 2021. Enhancing hybrid Liquidambar somatic seedling production using a temporary immersion bioreactor. Trees Structure and Function 35:503-512, DOI 10.1007/s00468-020-02052-0

Gladfelter, H.J., J. Johnston, H.D. Wilde and S.A. Merkle. 2021. Adventitious shoot-based propagation of Franklinia alatamaha for commercial horticulture and restoration. In Vitro Cell. Dev. Biol – Plant 56:857-864,

Gladfelter, H.J., J. Johnston, H.D. Wilde and S.A. Merkle. 2021. Somatic embryogenesis and cryopreservation of Stewartia species. Plant Cell Tiss. Organ Cult. 144:211-221,

Gladfelter, H.J., L.K. Yadav, S.A. Merkle and H.D. Wilde. 2020. Genetic diversity and population structure analysis of Franklinia alatamaha, a tree species existing only in cultivation. Tree Gen. Genomes 16:60. /

Merkle, S.A., F.J. Vieitez, E. Corredoira and J.E. Carlson. 2020. Castanea spp. Chestnut. In: Biotechnology of Fruit and Nut Crops, 2nd Edition (R.E. Litz, F. Pliego-Alfaro and J.I. Hormaza, eds.). CAB International, Wallingford, pp. 206-237.

Gladfelter, H.J., J. Johnston, D. Wilde and S. Merkle. 2019. Somatic embryogenesis of rare Stewartia species and elite cultivars. Combined Proceedings International Plant Propagators’ Society 69:258-256.

Merkle, S.A. 2019. The ups and downs of developing hybrid sweetgum varieties for the U.S. bioenergy and pulp and paper industries: a 20-year case study. In: Bonga JM, Park YS, Trontin JF (Editors) Proceedings of the 5th International Conference of the IUFRO Unit 2.09.02 on “Clonal Trees in the Bioeconomy Age: Opportunities and Challenges.” September 10-15, 2018. Coimbra, Portugal, pp. 225-229.

Zhang, S., P. Bettinger, C. Cieszewski, S. Merkle, K. Merry, S. Obata, X. He and H. Zheng. 2019. Evaluation of sites for the reestablishment of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) in northeast Georgia, USA. Landscape Ecol. 34:943-960.

Corredoira, E., S.A. Merkle, M.T. Martinez, M. Torribio, J.M. Canhoto, S.I. Correia, A. Ballester and A.M. Vieitez. 2019. Non-zygotic embryogenesis in hardwoods. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 38:29-97, DOI: 10.1080/07352689.2018.1551122

Merkle, S.A., A.R. Tull, H.J. Gladfelter, P.M. Montello, J.E. Mitchell, C. Ahn and R.D. McNeill. 2017. Somatic embryogenesis and cryostorage for conservation and restoration of threatened forest trees. In: Sniezko, R. A., Man, G., Hipkins, V., Woeste, K., Gwaze, D.,  Kliejunas, J.T. and McTeague, B.A., tech. cords. Proceedings of Workshop on Gene Conservation of Tree Species–Banking on the Future. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-963. Portland, OR. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, pp. 113-116.

Merkle, S.A., C. Ahn, A.R. Tull, P. M. Montello, J.E. Dassow and H.J. Gladfelter. 2017. Integration of selection, breeding, somatic embryogenesis and cryostorage to conserve and restore threatened North American forest trees. In: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference of the IUFRO Working Party 2.09.02, Development and application of vegetative propagation technologies in plantation forestry to cope with a changing climate and environment. September 19-23, 2016, La Plata, Argentina, pp. 245-248.  

Ahn, C.-H., A.R. Tull, P.M. Montello and S.A. Merkle. 2017. A clonal propagation system for Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) via somatic embryogenesis without the use of plant growth regulators. Plant Cell Tiss. Organ Cult. DOI 10.1007/s11240-017-1206-7.

Merkle, S., R. Tull and J. Tubbs. 2017. In vitro propagation of Ozark chinquapin. Journal of The American Chestnut Foundation 31(1):22-24.

Holtz, C.T., A.R. Tull and S.A. Merkle. 2017. Influence of species and hybrid status on induction of somatic embryogenesis in Castanea. Can. J. For. Res. 47(3):382-388. DOI 10.1139/cjfr-2016-0362.

Merkle, S.A., and M. Cunningham. 2016. Application of hybrid breeding and somatic embryogenesis to develop sweetgum varieties for the bioenergy and pulp and paper industries. In: Proceedings of the 33rd Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference, June 8-11, 2015, Hot Springs, AR, pp. 55-57.

Merkle, S.A. 2016. Application of somatic embryogenesis and transgenic technology to conserve and restore threatened forest tree species. In: Park, Y.-S., Bonga, J.M., and Moon, H.K., eds.) Vegetative Propagation of Forest Trees. National Institute of Forest Science (NIFoS), Seoul, South Korea, pp. 261-278.

Li, H. J. Zhao, J., C. Zhou, S.A. Merkle, and J.-F. Zhang. 2016. Morphologic characters and element content during development of Pinus tabuliformis seeds. J. For. Research 27:67-74. DOI 10.1007/s11676-015-0157-2.

Merkle, S.A., P.M. Montello, H.M. Reece and L. Kong. 2014. Somatic embryogenesis and cryostorage of eastern hemlock and Carolina hemlock for conservation and restoration. Trees Structure and Function 28:1767-1776. DOI 10.1007/s00468-014-1084-0.

Nelson, C.D., W.A. Powell, S.A. Merkle, J.E. Carlson, F.V. Hebard, N. Islam-Faridi, M.E. Staton and L. Georgi. 2014. Biotechnology of trees: chestnut.  In: K. Ramawat, J.M. Merillon, M.R. Ahuja (eds), Tree Biotechnology, Chapter 1. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA, pp. 3-35.

Oten, K.L.F., S.A. Merkle, R.M. Jetton, B.C. Smith, M.E. Talley and F.C. Hain. 2014. Understanding and developing resistance in hemlocks to the hemlock woolly adelgid.  Southeastern Naturalist 13:147-167.

Nelson, C.D., W.A. Powell, C.A. Maynard, K.M. Baier, A. Newhouse, S.A. Merkle, C.J. Nairn, L. Kong, J.E. Carlson, C. Addo-Quaye, M.E. Staton, F.V. Hebard, L.L. Georgi, A.G. Abbott, B.A, Olukolu and T. Zhebentyayeva. 2014. The Forest Health Initiative, American chestnut (Castanea dentata) as a model for forest tree restoration: biological research program. In: M.L. Double and W.L. MacDonald (eds), Proceedings of the Fifth International Chestnut Symposium, Acta Hort. 1019:179-189.

Kong, L., C.T. Holtz, C.J. Nairn, H. Houke, W.A. Powell, K. Baier and S.A. Merkle. 2014. Application of airlift bioreactors to accelerate genetic transformation in American chestnut. Plant Cell Tiss. Organ Cult. 117:39-50. DOI 10.1007/s11240-013-0418-8

Li, D., J. Zhang and S.A. Merkle. 2014. Induction of green ash embryogenic cultures with potential for scalable somatic embryo production using suspension culture. Trees Structure and Function 28:253-262. DOI 10.1007/s00468-013-0946-1

Merkle, S.A., A.R. Tull, C.T. Holtz, A. Newman and C.J. Nairn. 2013. Beyond hybrid backcross breeding: the intersection of the American Chestnut Foundation’s breeding program and varietal forestry. In: In: (Cunningham, M.W., ed.) Proceedings of the 32nd Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference, June 10-13, 2013, Clemson, SC, pp. 64-66.

Holtz, C.T., A.R. Tull and S.A. Merkle. 2013. The influence of Chinese chestnut genome proportion in the success of somatic embryogenesis in chestnut. In: (Cunningham, M.W., ed.) Proceedings of the 32nd Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference, June 10-13, 2013, Clemson, SC, pp. 55-58.

Merkle, S.A., L. Kong, R. Tull, G. Andrade, P.M. Montello, C.T. Holtz, R. Sakowski, S. Bryson and C.J. Nairn. 2011. Scaling up transgenic American chestnut somatic seedling production for the Forest Health Initiative. In: Proceedings of the 31st Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference, June 13-16, 2011, Biloxi, MS, pp. 58-60.

Nairn, C.J., L. Kong, G. Andrade-Dean, D.M. Lennon, E. Epps, C.D. Nelson, J.E, Carlson, A. Abbott, T. Kubisiak, C. Maynard, A. Barakat, K. Baier, W.A. Powell and S.A. Merkle. 2011. Delivery and characterization of candidate genes for disease resistance in American chestnut: vector construction and screening. In: Proceedings of the 31st Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference, June 13-16, 2011, Biloxi, MS, pp. 32-35.

Merkle, S.A. 2011. The case for hardwood varietals:  how hardwood somatic embryogenesis can enhance forest productivity in the Southeastern U.S.  In: Park, Y.S., Bonga, J.M, Park, S.Y., and Moon, H.K. (eds). Proceedings of the IUFRO Working Party 2.09.02: “Somatic Embryogenesis of Trees” conference on “Advances in Somatic Embryogenesis of Trees and Its Application for the Future Forests and Plantations”, August 19-21, 2010, Suwon, Republic of Korea, pp. 37-43.

LeBlanc, M.S. A. Lima, P. Montello, T. Kim, R. B. Meagher and S. Merkle. 2011. Enhanced arsenic tolerance of transgenic eastern cottonwood plants expressing gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase. Int. J. Phytoremediation 13:657-673.

Merkle, S.A. and M.W. Cunningham. 2011. Southern hardwood varietal forestry:  a new approach to short–rotation woody crops for biomass energy. J. Forestry 109(1):7-14.


FANR 8200 - Research in Forestry and Natural Resources