Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Genetics and Modern Technologies of Crops

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.03.00  Biotechnical sciences  Plant production   
4.06.00  Biotechnical sciences  Biotechnology   

Code Science Field
B006  Biomedical sciences  Agronomics 

Code Science Field
4.01  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 
targeted mutagenesis; genetic transformation; next generation molecular markers; biotic and abiotic stress; plant-pathogen interaction; transcriptome analysis; proteome analysis; comparative genomics; non-coding RNA; haploidy; somaclones; induced mutations; genetic markers; marker assisted selection
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (33)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  21407  PhD Sabina Berne  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  166 
2.  09565  PhD Borut Bohanec  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  592 
3.  50811  Tjaša Cesar  Plant production  Technical associate  2017 - 2018  13 
4.  18828  PhD Andreja Čerenak  Plant production  Researcher  2015 - 2018  418 
5.  02936  PhD Jure Čop  Plant production  Researcher  2015 - 2016  258 
6.  51925  Maja Dobrajc  Plant production  Junior researcher  2018  22 
7.  17787  Viktorija Dolenc    Technical associate  2015 - 2018 
8.  51973  PhD Marjeta Eržen  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2018  34 
9.  34332  PhD Marko Flajšman  Plant production  Researcher  2015 - 2018  162 
10.  36371  PhD Tanja Guček  Plant production  Junior researcher  2015 - 2018  63 
11.  38323  Marinka Horvat  Biotechnology  Technical associate  2018 
12.  31143  Nataša Hren    Technical associate  2015 - 2018 
13.  16379  PhD Jernej Jakše  Plant production  Head  2015 - 2018  689 
14.  05994  PhD Branka Javornik  Plant production  Researcher  2015 - 2018  1,293 
15.  37427  PhD Taja Jeseničnik  Plant production  Junior researcher  2015 - 2018  38 
16.  05007  PhD Darja Kocjan-Ačko  Plant production  Researcher  2015 - 2016  946 
17.  35430  PhD Zala Kolenc  Chemistry  Researcher  2015 - 2018  53 
18.  09085  PhD Katarina Košmelj  Mathematics  Researcher  2015 - 2018  235 
19.  50528  PhD Urban Kunej  Biotechnical sciences  Junior researcher  2017 - 2018  56 
20.  05083  PhD Zlata Luthar  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  378 
21.  36372  PhD Kristina Marton  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2015 - 2017  42 
22.  51860  Špela Mestinšek Mubi  Plant production  Junior researcher  2018  21 
23.  24413  PhD Jana Murovec  Biotechnology  Researcher  2015 - 2018  171 
24.  34333  PhD Tine Pokorn  Plant production  Junior researcher  2015 - 2016  38 
25.  35365  PhD Vasja Progar  Biotechnology  Junior researcher  2015 - 2016  31 
26.  20162  PhD Sebastjan Radišek  Plant production  Researcher  2015 - 2018  622 
27.  20164  PhD Katarina Rudolf Pilih  Biotechnology  Researcher  2017 - 2018  96 
28.  52178  Miha Slapnik  Plant production  Technical associate  2018  19 
29.  38120  PhD Ester Stajič  Plant production  Junior researcher  2015 - 2018  43 
30.  32017  Tina Svetek  Plant production  Junior researcher  2015 
31.  19184  PhD Nataša Štajner  Plant production  Researcher  2015 - 2018  325 
32.  15577  Nevenka Valič  Plant production  Technical associate  2015 - 2018  89 
33.  37428  PhD Helena Volk  Biotechnical sciences  Junior researcher  2015 - 2018  61 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0416  Slovenian Institute of Hop Research and Brewing  Žalec  5051762000  4,269 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  66,847 
The research program proposal consists of several interrelated modules focused on improvements in plant breeding techniques of selected species of agricultural plants, the development of molecular markers for their application in genetic diversity studies and breeding and on basic research in the field of biotic stress, including the role of non-coding RNA sequences. We plan to develop in particular techniques of plant biotechnology that enable faster and more efficient breeding of new varieties. In this program period, the emphasis will be on the use of site-directed mutagenesis for the disruption of undesirable genes. We intend to utilize novel methods, such as the TALENs or CRISPER systems, which have been shown to be highly efficient approaches for targeting specific sequences. Plants (varieties) resulting from such breeding approaches are regarded as target induced mutants with two advantages: such plants are not subject to the regulatory system of genetically modified plants and are more acceptable to consumers. In studies of biotic stress, plants and pathogens and their interactions will be analysed by the use of –omic approaches and functional analysis of candidate genes. We anticipate that we will be able to gain better understanding of plant-pathogen interactions and resistant mechanisms and to characterize key plant genes implicated in immune reactions.  On the pathogen side, a search for effector molecules, which manipulate host immunity and physiology and sometimes trigger a defence response, will be carried out. Newly discovered effector molecules will enable insight into pathogen virulence and, eventually, the development of new strategies of plant resistance. The study of noncoding RNA molecules will focus on their role in plant-pathogen interactions and regulation of plant gender expression. Technologies of new generation sequencing provide an enormous amount of genetic data, which will be used to generate new molecular markers with great potential for use in marker assisted selection. In addition to these techniques, we will continue to develop some already established biotechnological breeding procedures. We will also continue our successful breeding programmes in hops and several other species, particularly in cabbage, pumpkin and St. John's worth. We have already created successful new varieties of these species or are close to final evaluations.
Significance for science
The program will focus on studies of the genetics and biotechnology of agricultural plants. It will cover both basic and applied science, with an emphasis on   genome editing of selected vegetables and field crops and the development of other biotechnological methods for plant breeding, development of advanced breeding techniques by developing the next generation of molecular markers and their application in marker assisted selection.  study of effector biology, plant resistance mechanisms and the role of small RNAs during pathogenesis and different developmental stages,   The development of novel biotechnological methods of plant breeding will be mainly focused on targeted mutagenesis, which is currently being tested on model plants in the leading world laboratories. We will apply these new methods on selected agricultural plants for targeted genome modification, with the aim of improving economically important traits. Such an approach will significantly contribute to understanding the underlying genetic mechanisms of traits modification and will enable the development of efficient plant breeding methods. In the proposed program, the development of modern molecular tools for advanced plant breeding of hop and other species will continue and we expect that the results will bring new knowledge in the field of plant genetics and new applications in plant breeding. In hops, new markers for Verticillium wilt resistance and drought will be developed for application in marker assisted selection. Next generation molecular markers based on NGS will allow new possibilities of fast development of molecular markers and offer novel applications in plant breeding and for studies of genetic variability in agricultural plants. In some other species, we will continue to advance the most promising breeding methods already developed in our laboratory in previous years, particularly those related to haploid induction, somaclonal variation and induced mutagenesis. These will further upgrade our longstanding work in the field of genetics and plant breeding, which has already resulted in recognised scientific impact and various applications. The aim of biotic stress study is the identification of both the plant genes involved in the process of pathogen recognition and immune reaction and the pathogen virulence factors involved in infection and pathogenesis. The study is concentrated on the hop - V.albo-atrum (Vaa) pathosystem, working with highly aggressive strains, which cause lethal damage to hop. The expected results should explain the basic plant (hop) defence mechanisms and identify the genes involved in the immune reaction; knowledge which could be further extended to practical applications in hop resistance breeding. We further expect to identify and confirm new virulence-associated genes in Vaa not yet described in other fungi. The identified genes will enable interpretation of Vaa pathogenicity in biological terms and will provide insights into the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms of Vaa virulence. Furthermore, comparison of the identified genes of our pathotypes with the gene content of other sequenced Verticillium species will provide new knowledge of Verticillium spp pathogenicity. Our findings will contribute to breeding efforts by providing a scientific basis for the generation of wide spectrum and long-lasting plant resistance against Verticillium pathogens. In relation to biotic stress, the Verticillium-viroids pathosystem will be studied on the level of non-coding RNA, by which we expect to gain insights into the interactions between the plant and one or more viroids to explain the pathogenicity pathways of the smallest plant pathogen. Non-coding RNA will also be applied for the studies of hop gender development, which is not well understood. The study of the biotic stress will also enable the development of new diagnostic methods for pathogen detection and the development of new strategies for the identification and cont
Significance for the country
Research into the genetics and breeding of agricultural plants has very great importance in Slovenia, because this field of research make a constant essential contribution to solving a number of accumulated problems with which agriculture is faced daily. The proposed research program is therefore focused on genetic characterization of key plant species and their pathogens and on the development of novel Slovenian varieties. We are at present particularly active in hop, grapevine, oil pumpkin, cabbage, onion, garlic and olive, in addition to other species, in which we have already substantially contributed in a number of ways to the characterization of varieties and their pathogens and have been active in the development of improved varieties. More specifically, we list below the sets of our activities. The need to improve crop varieties and the introduction of completely new products of plant origin has so far been achieved primarily through the use of genetic transformation but this method has gained a negative connotation, especially in the EU. We anticipate that the application of several novel techniques, such as site-directed mutagenesis and, to some extent, site-specific gene insertion, might drastically change the current aversion to biotechnology techniques, thus opening tremendous opportunities for progress in this area. This has already been discussed by the regulatory authorities of the EU and other developed countries, which have issued a very positive opinion. It is therefore very important that such research is carried out in our country and that students are thus provided with the latest knowledge, comparable with global trends. We will continue working closely with plant breeding companies, growers, regulatory bodies and other stakeholders in order to transfer the obtained knowledge. Hop production and hop breeding in Slovenia have a long tradition and hop has consistently been an important Slovene agricultural product, since most of the yield is exported. Hop gardens cover a relatively small acreage but they provide significant earnings for producers because of the high value crop. The recent outbreak and spread of the lethal V. albo-atrum pathotype has become a serious threat to Slovene hop production particularly because of the prevalence of susceptible hop varieties. A similar problem, although on a larger scale, has also occurred in German hop gardens. It is therefore necessary to speed up breeding programs by marker assistant selection and thus offer to hop growers wilt resistant varieties specific for agricultural conditions, as the most effective means to control wilt disease. The results of the program will have a direct impact on the effectiveness of hop resistance breeding, since we employ a wide range of approaches to the study of plants, pathogens and their interactions and we expect to obtain enough information to develop efficient marker(s) for direct use in breeding. With the release of resistant cultivars, we would contribute to the preservation of hop cultivation and to sustainable agriculture in Slovenia. The results of the program will also have a direct impact on the formation of new strategies and guidelines for farming practice management and fighting the development of highly virulent strains of pathogens. At the same time, the development of new techniques for identification of pathogens will allow interested services in the field of plant pathology to apply faster and more cost efficient protocols in their routine. The development of a new generation of techniques of molecular markers and their generation in large numbers will allow rapid detection of linkage with agronomically important characteristics and the use of these markers in breeding applications with the help of markers (MAS), which will be implemented in breeding programs at institutes and in seed companies. Finally, the proposed research will have significant relevance in the transfer of up-to-date knowledge to educationa
Most important scientific results Annual report 2015, 2016, 2017, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2015, 2016, 2017, final report
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