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



  • Ratan Chopra, Co-PI & LEAD Northern Genetics University of Minnesota
  • John C. Sedbrook, Co-PI & LEAD Southern Genetics, Illinois State University

Collaborators, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Research Fellow and Interns

  • Jim Anderson, University of Minnesota
  • Clair Biel, 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Liza Gautam, Illinois State University (Grad. Student)
  • Alex Hafner, 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience, Illinois State University
  • Brett Heim, University of Minnesota
  • Nikhil Jaikumar, Illinois State University (Grad. Student)
  • Brice Jarvis, Illinois State University (Grad. Student)
  • Aaron Lorenz, University of Minnesota (LEAD – Northern SELECT)
  • Michaela McGinn, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Danny Marchiafava, Illinois State University (Grad. Student)
  • M.David Marks, University of Minnesota
  • Marsha Menos, 2021 Integrated Plant Systems – Undergraduate Research Experience, Univ. of Florida
  • Mark Messmer, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Matthew A. Ott, University of Minnesota (Grad. Student)
  • Mary Phippen, Western Illinois University
  • Win Phippen, Western Illinois University
  • Krishan Mohan Rai, University of Minnesota
  • Lucas Roberts, University of Minnesota (Grad. Student)
  • Zenith Tandukar, University of Minnesota (Grad. Student)
  • Tim Ulmasov, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Tad Wesley, Western Illinois University
  • Dalton Williams, Illinois State University (Grad. Student)