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

Collaborators & Graduate Students

  • Heba Abouseada, Visiting Fulbright Scholar, Illinois State Univ. (Ain shams University)
  • Jim Anderson, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Carol Kiam Assato, Illinois State Univ. (Grad. Student)
  • Rtan Chopra, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Liza Gautam, Illinois State Univ. (Grad. Student)
  • Brett Heim, University of Minnesota
  • Nikhil Jaikumar, Illinois State Univ. (Grad. Student)
  • Brice Jarvis, Illinois State Univ. (Grad. Student)
  • Aaron Lorenz, Univ. of Minnesota (LEAD – Northern SELECT)
  • Michaela McGinn, Genetic & Regulatory Consultant
  • Shahriar Mahmud, Illinois State Univ. (Grad. Student)
  • Danny Marchiafava, Illinois State Univ. (Grad. Student)
  • Mark Messmer, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Matthew A. Ott, Univ. of Minnesota (Grad. Student)
  • Mary Phippen, Western Illinois Univ.
  • Win Phippen, Western Illinois Univ.
  • Krishan Mohan Rai, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Lucas Roberts, Univ. of Minnesota (Grad. Student)
  • Zenith Tandukar, Univ. of Minnesota (Grad. Student)
  • Tim Ulmasov, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Tad Wesley, Western Illinois Univ.
  • Dalton Williams, Illinois State Univ. (Grad. Student)
  • Jeffrey Wilson, CoverCress, Inc.

2020 & 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience

  • Clair Biel, 2020 & 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Alex Hafner, 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience,  Illinois State  Univ.
  • Justin Larkin, 2020 IPS-URE Undergrad. Research Fellow, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Mitchell Polk, IPS-URE Intern, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Joe Rickman, 2020 IPS-URE Intern, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Kayla Vittore, 2020 IPS-URE Undergrad. Research Fellow, Univ. of Minnesota