Neil Mattson

Neil Mattson

Associate Professor

49D Plant Science
(607) 255-0621

The central theme of my research program is to understand the influence of environmental factors and cultural practices on the physiology, development, and biochemical characteristics of greenhouse crops. Of particular focus is the influence of water quality and nutrient availability, temperature, light, and abiotic stress conditions on the physiology of herbaceous plants. This fits well with my extension goal of providing producers with relevant, research-based information for the production of high quality floriculture crops using nutrients, water, and energy efficiently. A challenge in floriculture research is the diversity of cultivars, species, and genera that are economically important. I try to address this diversity two ways: 1) in basic research I seek to understand mechanisms that underlie fundamental plant responses with potential application for many genera; and 2) in applied research I seek to answer specific questions that will have direct implications for greenhouse production practices. The complexity of biological systems requires collaboration with other specialists; and necessitates integrative methods for prediction and analysis of plant response to interacting factors.

Research Focus

The central theme of my research program is to understand the influence of environmental factors and cultural practices on the physiology, development, and biochemical characteristics of floriculture crops. Of particular focus is the influence of water quality, rhizosphere conditions, and nutrient availability on the physiology of herbaceous ornamental plants. My research program aims to solve both existing problems faced in floriculture that can be readily applied by the greenhouse industry as well as use more fundamental approaches to understand in mechanisms of plant abiotic stress tolerance with the aim of addressing long-term problems such as water shortage.
A challenge in floriculture research is the diversity of cultivars, species, and genera that are economically important. I try to address this diversity two ways: 1) in basic research I seek to understand mechanisms that underlie fundamental plant responses with potential application for many genera; and 2) in applied research I seek to answer specific questions that will have direct implications for floriculture production practices. The complexity of biological systems requires collaboration with other specialists; and necessitates integrative methods for prediction and analysis of plant response to interacting factors.

Outreach and Extension Focus

The central goal of my greenhouse extension program is to deliver research-based information pertinent to greenhouse producers to help them make sound management decisions. My focus on greenhouse sustainability really comprises two different aspects. First and foremost greenhouse producers view sustainability as survivability. High input costs and declining crop margins have plagued the floriculture industry for the past decade. Presentations, outreach materials, and applied research have focused on methods to reduce production costs (heating costs, fertilizer inputs, and reducing crop shrinkage) as well as improving plant quality and shelf-life to increase crop value. The second area I have focused on is reducing fertilizer inputs and developing strategies to reduce run-off to the environment. This area is a concern, particularly in Long Island where half of NYS’s floriculture industry is centered.
My extension efforts are directed at commercial producers of greenhouse crops. In New York this industry is primarily greenhouse growers of herbaceous material sold as potted plants or spring bedding plants. The New York State greenhouse industry is comprised of about 770 operations in >600 acres of greenhouse space producing flowers and vegetables with a wholesale farm gate value of more than $200 million annually.

Teaching Focus

While I do not have a formal teaching appointment at Cornell I enjoy giving several guest lectures every year related to topics relevant to my research and extension interests, such as: the floriculture industry and production techniques, plant mineral nutrition, containerized plant production, soilless substrates, organic fertilizers, monitoring root-zone pH and salts. In addition I teach Current Topics in Horticulture (Hort 4950/6000, 1 credit) each semester.

Awards and Honors

  • Inducted member (2013) Pi Alpha Xi, National Honor Society for floriculture, landscape horticulture and ornamental horticulture
  • 40 under 40 leaders in horticulture/floriculture (2015) Greenhouse Product News (GPN) Magazine

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

  • Li, Y., & Mattson, N. S. (2015). Effects of seaweed extract application rate and method on post-production life of petunia and tomato transplants. HortTechnology. 25:505-510.
  • Gerovac, J. R., Lopez, R. G., & Mattson, N. S. (2015). High tunnel versus climate-controlled greenhouse: transplant time and production environment impact growth and morphology of cold-tolerant bedding plants. HortScience. 50:830-838.
  • Currey, C. J., Lopez, R. G., & Mattson, N. S. (2014). Finishing bedding plants: a comparison of unheated high tunnels versus heated greenhouses in two geographic locations. HortTechnology. 24:527-534.
  • Villarino , G. H., Bombarely, A., Giovannoni, J. J., Scanlon, M. J., & Mattson, N. S. (2014). Transcriptomic analysis of Petunia hybrida in response to salt stress using high throughput RNA sequencing. PLoS One. 9:13.
  • Shahid, M. A., Balal, R. M., Pervez, M. A., Abbas, T., Ashfaz, M., Ghazanfar, U., Afzal, M., Rashid, A., Garcia-Sanchez, F., & Mattson, N. S. (2012). Differential response of pea (Pisum sativum L.) genotypes to salt stress in relation to the growth, physiological attributes, antioxidant activity and organic solutes. Australian Journal of Crop Science. 6:828-838.
  • Mattson, N. S., & Harwood, E. D. (2012). Effect of light regimen on yield and flavonoid content of warehouse grown aeroponic Eruca sativa. Acta Horticulturae. 956:417-422.
  • Liu, J., Leatherwood, W. R., & Mattson, N. S. (2012). Irrigation method and fertilizer concentration differentially alter growth of vegetable transplants. HortTechnology. 22:56-63.
  • Mattson, N. S., & van Iersel, M. W. (2011). Application of the ÔÔ4RÕÕ nutrient stewardship concept to horticultural crops: applying nutrients at the ÔÔright timeÕÕ. HortTechnology. 21:667-673.
  • Villarino, G., & Mattson, N. S. (2011). Assessing tolerance to sodium chloride salinity in fourteen floriculture species. HortTechnology. 21:539-545.
  • Shahid, M. A., Pervez, M. A., Balal, R. M., Mattson, N. S., Rashid, A., Ahmad, R., Ahhub, C. M., & Abbas, T. (2011). Brassinosteroid (24-epibrassinosteroid) enhances growth and alleviates the deleterious effects effects induced by salt stress in pea (Pisum sativum L.). Australian Journal of Crop Science. 5:500-510.

Presentations and Activities

  • An integrated approach to improving the abiotic stress tolerance of floriculture crops. October 2014. China Agricultural University. Beijing, China.
  • An integrated approach to improving the abiotic stress tolerance of floriculture crops. International Symposium of Horticulture Science. October 2014. Shandong Agricultural University. Taian, China.
  • Temperature effects on tomato growth and nutrient release in substrates amended with organic and conventional fertilizers. 111th Annual ASHS Conference. July 2014. American Society for Horticultural Science. Orlando, FL.
  • Potassium silicate supplementation enhances heat tolerance of Petunia x hybrida ‘Mitchell Diploid’. 111th Annual ASHS Conference. July 2014. American Society for Horticultural Science. Orlando, FL.
  • Transcriptome response of Petunia x hybrida to sodium chloride salinity using high throughput RNA sequencing. 111th Annual ASHS Conference. July 2014. American Society for Horticultural Science. Orlando, FL.
  • Optimization of RNA-seq analysis using the non-model plant Petunia x hybrida under salt stress. 13th World Petunia Days. September 2013. The Petunia Platform. Nijmegen, Netherlands.
  • Investigating vermicompost as the primary fertilizer source in organic vegetable and flower transplant production. 110th Annual American Society for Horticultural Science Conference. July 2013. ASHS. Palm Desert, CA.
  • California Spring Trials. California Spring Trials. April 2013. Cornell University. California.
  • Assessment of the effect of silicon on morphology and physiology of petunia plants gorwn in the presence of varying salt concentrations. International annual meetings of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. October 2012. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. Cincinnati, OH.
  • Effect of light regimen on yield and flavonoid content of warehouse grown aeroponic Eruca sativa. International symposium on light in horticultural systems. October 2012. International Society of Horticultural Science. Wageningen, Netherlands.