Breeding and Genetics

Our research teams have generated high-yielding pennycress breeding lines through multi-state testing and identified/validated trait-improving mutations and natural variants. Throughout the course of the project, we will:

  • Utilize marker-assisted selection and CRISPR gene editing to complete introgression of these traits into elite breeding lines.
  • Extend our replicated yield testing program to a cooperative regional program and rapidly identify the best lines for each Midwest location (IL, MN, OH, WI) in conjunction with a commercial launch.
  • Perform field evaluations and seed increases of lines with commercial potential.
  • Develop additional genetic/genomic resources for long-term breeding programs success


Research Goal: Pennycress Improvement

Our work involves the combined efforts of breeders, bioinformaticists, agronomists, geneticists, biochemists, and farmers affiliated with four pennycress breeding programs: Illinois State UniversityUniversity of Minnesota, Western Illinois University, and CoverCress, IncWe are joining forces to rapidly develop elite pennycress varieties with superior traits best adapted for each region where pennycress will be grown commercially.

  • Development of Adapted Breeding Lines
  • Development of Domestication Traits
  • Introgression of Domestication Traits into Adapted Breeding Lines
  • Multi-State Yield Evaluations and Seed Increases
  • Development of Additional Genetic and Genomic Resources



  • David Marks, University of Minnesota (LEAD – MN Genomics Efforts)
  • John C. Sedbrook, Co-PI & LEAD Southern Genetics, Illinois State University

Collaborators, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Research Fellow and Interns

  • Heba Abouseada, Visiting Fulbright Scholar, Illinois State University (Ain shams University)
  • Jim Anderson, University of Minnesota
  • Clair Biel, 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Rtan Chopra, University of Minnesota
  • Liza Gautam, Illinois State University (Grad. Student)
  • Alex Hafner, 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience,  Illinois State  Univ.
  • Brett Heim, University of Minnesota
  • Nikhil Jaikumar, Illinois State University (Grad. Student)
  • Brice Jarvis, Illinois State University (Grad. Student)
  • Justin Larkin, (IPS-URE Undergrad. Research Fellow)
  • Aaron Lorenz, University of Minnesota (LEAD – Northern SELECT)
  • Michaela McGinn, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Danny Marchiafava, Illinois State University (Grad. Student)Ra
  • Mark Messmer, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Deepika Mishra, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Matthew A. Ott, University of Minnesota (Grad. Student)
  • Mary Phippen, Western Illinois University
  • Win Phippen, Western Illinois University
  • Mitchell Polk, University of Minnesota (IPS-URE Intern)
  • Krishan Mohan Rai, University of Minnesota
  • Joe Rickman, IPS-URE Intern (University of Minnesota)
  • Lucas Roberts, University of Minnesota (Grad. Student)
  • Zenith Tandukar, University of Minnesota (Grad. Student)
  • Tim Ulmasov, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Kayla Vittore, University of Minnesota (IPS-URE Undergrad. Research Fellow)
  • Tad Wesley, Western Illinois University
  • Dalton Williams, Illinois State University (Grad. Student)