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Sunish Kumar Sehgal

Sunish Sehgal


Associate Professor/Winter Wheat Breeder

Office Building

Young Brothers Seed Technology Laboratory



Mailing Address

Seed Technology Lab 113B
Agronomy, Horticulture & Plant Science-Box 2108
University Station
Brookings, SD 57007


Dr. Sehgal received his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Punjab Agricultural University. He worked as a research scientist at Kansas State University (2006-2014). Since joining SDSU in 2014 he is leading the winter wheat breeding program at SDSU. His research is focused on developing and releasing high yield winter wheat cultivars with resistance to biotic (mostly FHB, stripe, leaf, and stem rust, and WSMV) and abiotic stresses (winter hardiness and drought). In addition to research, Dr. Sehgal has also been active in teaching, student advising, and outreach for the wheat industry in South Dakota. Dr. Sehgal has published more than 49 peer-reviewed articles including Nature, Science, PNAS, Genome Biology, Plant Physiology, New Phytologist, Genetics, BMC Genomics, BMC Plant Biology, Plant Beeding, PLOSone, Frontiers of Plant Science and Theoretical and Applied Genetics.


Ph.D. Plant Breeding
M.S. Plant Breeding
B. S. Agriculture (Honors Plant Breeding & Seed Technology)

Academic Interests/Expertise

Wheat Breeding and Genetics

Academic Responsibilities

PS787 -Advanced Plant Breeding (Spring odd year)
BIOL664/PS664 -Molecular Plant Physiology (Team taught, Spring)

Committee Activities

National Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee
National Wheat Improvement Committee
USDA Wheat Crop Germplasm Committee
SDSU Variety Release Committee

Specialty Area

  • Plant breeding and genetics

Extension Responsibilities

No assigned responsibilities, but I make presentations in more than 6 field days on producer farms and SDSU research stations across the state educating the growers about the winter wheat varieties available and their characteristics.

Awards and Honors

2010 "Early Career Speaker Award", International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium.
2010 “K-State Make A Difference Award” for undergraduate mentoring, Kansas State University, Manhattan KS.
2004 "University Randhawa Gold Medal" for the best essay on Second Green Revolution, Punjab Agricultural University, India.
2003 University Merit Scholarship (Ph.D. program), Punjab Agricultural University, India.


Grants Received as PI
Current Grants
1. Developing high yielding winter wheat varieties with excellent end-use quality for South Dakota funded by South Dakota Wheat Commission from 2019 to 2020.
2. Accelerated breeding for disease and insect pest resistance in winter wheat funded by South Dakota Wheat Commission from 2019 to 2020.
3. Winter Wheat Breeding for Scab Resistance in South Dakota funded by USDA-USWBSI from 2018 to 2020.
4. WheatCAP: Validation, characterization, and deployment of QTL for grain yield components in wheat (lead institute UCD) funded by USDA-NIFA from 2016 to 2021.
5. Breaking the wheat domestication bottleneck by interploidy hybridization funded by USDA (EAGER) 2018-2020.


Plant Variety Protection (PVP)
'Oahe' 2019
'Thompson' 2019
'Winner' submitted
'Draper' submitted

Professional Memberships

Crop Science Society of America
Agronomy Society of America
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Coordinating committee member International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) (2009-2014)

Work Experience

Associate Professor and Winter Wheat Breeder, South Dakota State University

Assistant Professor and Winter Wheat Breeder, South Dakota State University, 2014-2020

Senior Scientist, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS from Jul 2013 - Sep 2014

Research Associate, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS from Nov 2006 - Jun2013

Area(s) of Research

The focus of SDSU-Hard Winter Wheat (HWW) breeding program is a continual genetic enhancement of HWW productivity (both quantity and quality) and value addition for growers in South Dakota and the Northern Great Plains.

Winter Wheat Varieties Released:
1. Hard red winter (HRW) wheat cultivar ‘Oahe’ was released by SDAES (8/2016). Oahe offers a combination of high yield with good test weight and moderate resistance to stripe rust, leaf rust, wheat streak mosaic virus, and Fusarium head blight.

2. Hard red winter (HRW) wheat cultivar ‘Thompson’ was released by SDAES (11/2017). Thompson is a high yielding taller semi-dwarf HRW variety adapted to central South Dakota with moderate resistance to leaf rust and stem rust and acceptable milling quality.

3. Hard red winter (HRW) wheat cultivar ‘Winner’ was released by SDAES (9/2019). Winner is semi-dwarf variety with unusually broad adaptation to the eastern half of the Northern Great Plains. Winner has medium height and medium maturity with higher yield potential, good baking quality, and moderate resistance to stem rust.

4. Hard red winter (HRW) wheat cultivar ‘Draper’ was released by SDAES (9/2019). Draper is a semi-dwarf variety with good straw strength and a limited target region, specifically western South Dakota. Draper has improved yield potential with average test weight, grain protein, and good milling and baking quality. It is resistant to soilborne mosaic virus.

Publications: Refereed Journal Articles

52. Liu S, Wang D, Lin M, Sehgal SK, Dong L, Wu Y, Bai G (2020) Artificial selection in breeding extensively enriched a functional allelic variation in TaPHS1 for pre-harvest sprouting resistance in wheat. Theor Appl Genet (in press)

51. Sidhu JS, Singh D, Gill HS, Brar NK, Qiu Y, Halder J, Al Tameemi R, Turnipseed B, Sehgal SK* (2020) Genome-wide association study uncovers novel genomic regions associated with coleoptile length in hard winter wheat. Front. Genet. 10:1345

50. Latif S,Wang L, Khan J, Ali Z, Sehgal SK, Babar MA, Wang J, Quraishi UM (2020) Deciphering the role of Stay-Green Trait to mitigate terminal heat stress in Bread Wheat. Agronomy 10(7): 1001

49. Kaur N, Sehgal SK, Glover D, Byamukama E, Ali S (2020) Impact of Fusarium graminearum on seed germination and seedling blight in hard red spring cultivars in South Dakota. J Plant Pathology & Microbiology 11:495

48. Liu W, Li H, Dong Z, Ma C, Xia Q, Tian X, Sehgal S, Friebe B, Ma P (2020) A spontaneous wheat-Aegilops longissima translocation carrying Pm66 confers resistance to powdery mildew. Theor Appl Genet 133(4):1149-1159

47. Dong Z, X, Ma C, Xia Q, Wang B, Chen Q, Sehgal SK, Friebe B, Li H and Liu W (2020) Towards Physical Mapping of Pm57, a Powdery Mildew Resistance Gene Derived from Aegilops searsii. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 21(1), 322;

46. Halder J, Zhang J, Ali S, Sidhu JS, Gill HS, Talukdar S, Kleinjan J, Turnipseed B, Sehgal SK* (2019) Mining and genomic characterization of resistance to tan spot, Stagonospora nodorum blotch (SNB), and Fusarium head blight in Watkins core collection of wheat landraces. BMC Plant Biology 19:480

45. Ramakrishnan SM, Sidhu JS, Ali S, Kaur N, Wu J, Sehgal SK* (2019) Molecular characterization of bacterial leaf streak resistance in hard winter wheat. PeerJ 7:e7276

44. Gill HS, Li C, Sidhu JS, Liu W, Wilson D, Bai G, Gill BS, Sehgal SK* (2019) Fine mapping of the wheat leaf rust resistance gene. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 20:2445;

43. Sidhu JS, Ramakrishnan SM, Ali S, Bernardo A, Bai G, Abdullah S, Ayana G, Sehgal SK*. (2019) Assessing the genetic diversity and characterizing genomic regions conferring tan spot resistance in cultivated rye. PLoS ONE 14: e0214519.

42. Djanaguiraman M, Prasad PVV, Kumari J, Sehgal SK, Friebe B, Dalovic I, Chen Y, Siddique KHM, Gill BS (2019) Alien chromosome segment from Aegilops speltoides and Dasypyrum villosum increases drought tolerance in wheat via profuse and deep root system. BMC Plant Biology 19:242.

41. Singh N, Wu S, Raupp J, Sehgal S, Arora S, Tiwari V, Vikram P, Singh S, Chhuneja P, Gill BS, Poland J (2019) Efficient curation of genebanks using next generation sequencing reveals substantial duplication of germplasm accessions. Scientific Reports 9: 650.

40. Singh N, Wu S, Tiwari V, Sehgal S, Raupp J, Wilson D, Abbasov M, Gill BS, Poland J (2019) Genomic analysis confirms population structure and identifies inter-lineage hybrids in Aegilops tauschii. Front. Plant Sci. 10:9.

39. Kumar S, Sieverding H, Lai L, Thandiwe N, Wienhold B, Redfearn D, Archer D, Ussiri D, Faust D, Landblom D, Grings E, Stone JJ, Jacquet J, Pokharel K, Liebig M, Schmer M, Sexton P, Mitchell R, Smalley S, Osborne S, Ali S, Şentürklü S, Sehgal S, Owens V, Jinc V (2019) Facilitating crop-livestock reintegration in the Northern Great Plains. Agronomy J 111:1–16 (Peer-reviewed review article)

38. Appels R, Eversole K, Feuille, C, Keller B, Rogers J, Stein N, Pozniak CJ, Choulet F, Distelfeld A, Poland J, Ronen G, Sharpe AG, Pozniak C, Barad O, Baruch K, Keeble-Gagnère G, Mascher M, Ben-Zvi G, Josselin A-A, Himmelbach A, Balfourier F, Gutierrez-Gonzalez J, Hayden M, Koh C, Muehlbauer G, Pasam RK, Paux E, Rigault P, Tibbits J, Tiwari V, Spannagl M, Lang D, Gundlach H, Haberer G, Mayer KFX, Ormanbekova D, Prade V, Šimková H, Wicker T, Swarbreck D, Rimbert H, Felder M, Guilhot N, Kaithakottil G, Keilwagen J, Leroy P, Lux T, Twardziok S, Venturini L, Juhász A, Abrouk M, Fischer I, Uauy C, Borrill P, Ramirez-Gonzalez RH, Arnaud D, Chalabi S, Chalhoub B, Cory A, Datla R, Davey MW, Jacobs J, Robinson SJ, Steuernagel B, van Ex F, Wulff BBH, Benhamed M, Bendahmane A, Concia L, Latrasse D, Alaux M, Bartoš J, Bellec A, Berges H, Doležel J, Frenkel Z, Gill B, Korol A, Letellier T, Olsen O-A, Singh K, Valárik M, van der Vossen E, Vautrin S, Weining S, Fahima T, Glikson V, Raats D, Číhalíková J, Toegelová H, Vrána J, Sourdille P, Darrier B, Barabaschi D, Cattivelli L, Hernandez P, Galvez S, Budak H, Jones JDG, Witek K, Yu G, Small I, Melonek J, Zhou R, Belova T, Kanyuka K, King R, Nilsen K, Walkowiak S, Cuthbert R, Knox R, Wiebe K, Xiang D, Rohde A, Golds T, Čížková J, Akpinar BA, Biyiklioglu S, Gao L, N’Daiye A, Kubaláková M, Šafář J, Alfama F, Adam-Blondon A-F, Flores R, Guerche C, Loaec M, Quesneville H, Condie J, Ens J, Maclachlan R, Tan Y, Alberti A, Aury J-M, Barbe V, Couloux A, Cruaud C, Labadie K, Mangenot S, Wincker P, Kaur G, Luo M, Sehgal S, Chhuneja P, Gupta OP, Jindal S, Kaur P, Malik P, Sharma P, Yadav B, Singh NK, Khurana J, Chaudhary C, Khurana P, Kumar V, Mahato A, Mathur S, Sevanthi A, Sharma N, Tomar RS, Holušová K, Plíhal O, Clark MD, Heavens D, Kettleborough G, Wright J, Balcárková B, Hu Y, Salina E, Ravin N, Skryabin K, Beletsky A, Kadnikov V, Mardanov A, Nesterov M, Rakitin A, Sergeeva E, Handa H, Kanamori H, Katagiri S, Kobayashi F, Nasuda S, Tanaka T, Wu J, Cattonaro F, Jiumeng M, Kugler K, Pfeifer M, Sandve S, Xun X, Zhan B, Batley J, Bayer PE, Edwards D, Hayashi S, Tulpová Z, Visendi P, Cui L, Du X, Feng K, Nie X, Tong W, Wang L (2018) Shifting the limits in wheat research and breeding using a fully annotated reference genome. Science. 361:eaar7191.

37. Ayana GT, Ali S, Sidhu JS, Gonzalez Hernandez JL, Turnipseed B, Sehgal SK* (2018) Genome-wide association study for spot blotch resistance in hard winter wheat. Front. Plant Sci. 9:926.

36. Wiersma AT, Whetten RB, Zhang G, Sehgal SK, Kolb FL, Poland JA, Mason RE, Carter AH, Cowger C, Olson EL (2018) Registration of two wheat germplasm lines fixed for Pm58. J. Plant. Reg. 12: 270-273.

35. Abdullah S, Sehgal SK, Glover K, Ali S (2017) Reaction of global collection of rye (Secale cereale L.) to tan spot and Pyrenophora tritici-repentis races in South Dakota. The Plant Pathology Journal 33: 229-237.

34. Abdullah S, Sehgal SK, Ali S (2017) Race diversity of Pyrenophora tritici-repentis in South Dakota and response of predominant wheat cultivars to tan spot. J Plant Pathol Microbiol 8: 409.

33. Abdullah S, Sehgal SK*, Yu J, Turnipseed B, Ali S* (2017) Insight into tan spot and stem rust resistance and susceptibility by studying the pre-green revolution global collection of wheat. The Plant Pathology Journal 33:125-132.

32. Abdullah S, Sehgal SK, Ali S, Laiiatukas Ž, Ittu M, Kaur N (2017) Characterization of Pyrenophora tritici-repentis (tan spot of wheat) races in Baltic States and Romania. The Plant Pathology Journal: 33(2): 133–139.

31. Gong W, Gong W, Han R, Li G, Sehgal SK, Li H, Liu H, Song J, Song G, Liu C, Liu J (2016) Chromosome arm-specific markers from Aegilops searsii permits targeted introgression. Biologia 71:87-92.

30. Wiersma AT, Brown LK, Brisco EI, Liu TL, Childs KL, Poland JA, Sehgal SK, Olson EL (2016) Fine mapping of the stem rust resistance gene SrTA10187. Theor Appl Genet 128: 2369-2378.

29. Davis MA, Bockus W, Zhang G, Fritz AK, Baenziger PS, Marais GF, Sehgal SK (2016) Reaction of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota winter wheat accessions to Fusarium head blight (FHB). Plant Disease Management Reports Vol 11:CF037.

28. Chapman JA, Mascher M, Buluç AN, Barry K, Georganas E, Session A, Strnadova V, Jenkins J, Sehgal S, Oliker L, Schmutz J, Yelick KA, Scholz U, Waugh R, Poland JA, Muehlbauer GJ, Stein N, Rokhsar DS (2015) A whole-genome shotgun approach for assembling and anchoring the hexaploid bread wheat genome. Genome Biol. 16:26.

27. Bockus W, Zhang G, Fritz AK, Davis MA, Baenziger PS, Marais GF, Sehgal SK (2015) Reaction of Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota winter wheat accessions to Fusarium head blight (FHB). Plant Disease Management Reports Vol 10: CF043.

26. Liu S, Sehgal SK, Lin M, Li J, Trick H, Gill BS, Bai G (2015) Independent mis-splicing mutations in TaPHS1 causing loss of pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) resistance during wheat domestication. New Phytologist 208:928-35.

25. Chhuneja P, Yadav B, Stirnweis D, Hurni S, Kaur S, Elkot AF, Keller B, Wicker T, Sehgal SK, Gill BS, Singh KS (2015) Fine mapping of a new powdery mildew resistance gene PmTb7A and a new allele of Pm1Tb in Triticum boeoticum and identification of STS markers suited for MAS using the survey sequence data of chromosome 7AL. Theor Appl Genet 128:2099-2111.

24. Cainong JC, Bockus WW, Feng Y, Chen P, Qi L, Sehgal SK, Danilova TV, Koo D, Friebe B, Gill BS (2015) Chromosome engineering, mapping, and transfer of native grass resistance to Fusarium Head Blight disease into wheat. Theor Appl Genet 128:1019-1027.

23. Koo D-H, Sehgal SK, Friebe B, Gill BS (2015) Structure and stability of telocentric chromosomes in wheat. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0137747.

22. Jugulam M, Niehues K, Godar AS, Koo DH, Danilova TV, Friebe BR, Sehgal SK, Varanasi V, Wiersma A, Westra P, Stahlman P, Gill BS (2014) Tandem amplification of a chromosomal segment harboring EPSPS locus confers glyphosate resistance in Kochia scoparia. Plant Physiol.166: 1200-1207.

21. Tiwari VK, Wang S, Sehgal S, Vrána J, Friebe B, Kubaláková M, Chhuneja P, Doležel J, Akhunov E, Kalia B, Sabir J, Gill BS (2014) SNP discovery and mapping alien introgressions in wheat. BMC Genomics 15: 274.

20. Gawroński P, Ariyadasa R, Poursarebani N, Himmelbach A, Kilian B, Stein N, Steuernagel B, Hensel G, Kumlehn J, Sehgal SK, Gill BS, Gould P, Hall A, Schnurbusch T (2014) A distorted circadian clock causes early flowering and temperature-dependent variation in spike development in the eps-3am mutant of einkorn wheat. Genetics 196:1253-1261.

19. Liu S, Sehgal SK, Li J, Lin M, Trick H, Yu J, Gill BS, Bai G (2013) Cloning and characterization of a critical regulator for pre-harvest sprouting in wheat. Genetics 195:263-273.

18. Luo M-C, Gu Y, You FM, Deal KD, MaY, Hu Y, Huo N, Wang Y, Wang J, Chen S, Jorgensen CM, McGuire PE, Stein J, Ware D, McCombie R, Kianian SF, Martis MM, Mayer K, Sehgal SK, Gill BS, Bevan M, Dolezel J, Anderson OD, Dvorak J (2013) Physical map and gene space sequence of Aegilops tauschii, the source of wheat D genome, provide insights into the evolution of grass genomes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110: 7940-7945.

17. Akhunov E*, Sehgal S*, Liang H, Wang S, Akhunova A, Kaur G, Li W, Forrest KL, See D, Simkova H, Hayden M, Luo M-C, Farris J, Dolezel J, Gill BS (2013) Comparative analysis of orthologous genes in grass genomes reveals the accelerated rates of alternative splicing and coding sequence evolution in polyploid wheat. Plant Physiol 161:252–265.

16. Brenchley R, Spannagl M, Pfeifer M, Barker GLA, D’Amore R, Allen AM, McKenzie N, Kramer K, Kerhornou A, Bolser D, Kay S, Waite D, Trick M, Bancroft I, Gu Y, Huo N, Luo M-C, Sehgal S, Gill B, Kianian K, Anderson O, Kersey P, Dvorak J, McCombie WR, Hall A, Mayer KFX, Edwards KJ, Bevan MW, Hall N (2012) Analysis of the bread wheat genome using whole-genome shotgun sequencing. Nature 491:705-710.

15. Sehgal SK, Li W, Rabinowicz PD, Chan A, Šimková H, Doležel J, Gill BS (2012) Chromosome arm-specific BAC end sequences permit comparative analysis of homoeologous chromosomes and genome of polyploid wheat. BMC Plant Biology 12:64.

14. Rawat N, Sehgal SK, Joshi A, Rothe N, Wilson DL, McGraw N, Vadlani PV, Li W, Gill BS (2012) A diploid wheat TILLING resource for wheat functional genomics. BMC Plant Biology 12:205.

13. Kumar S, Sehgal SK, Joshi AK, Kumar U, Prasad PVV and Gill BS (2012) Genomic characterization of drought tolerance related traits in spring wheat. Euphytica 158:265-76.

12. Liu W*, Thummasuwan S*, Sehgal SK, Chouvarine P, Peterson DG (2011) Characterization of the genome of bald cypress. BMC Genomics 12:553.

11. Sehgal SK, Gupta S, Kaur S, Sharma A, Bains NS (2011) A direct hybridization approach for gene transfer from Aegilops tauschii Coss. to Triticum aestivum L. Plant Breeding 130:98-100.

10. Gupta S, Kaur S, Sehgal S, Sharma A, Chhuneja P, Bains NS (2010) Genotypic variation for cellular thermotolerance in Aegilops tauschii Coss., the D genome progenitor of wheat. Euphytica 175: 373-381.

9. Liu C*, Li G-R*, Sehgal SK, Jia J-Q, Yang Z-J, Friebe B, Gill B (2010) Genomic divergence in the genus Dasypyrum: evidence from molecular phylogenetic analysis and in situ hybridization. Plant Systematics and Evolution 288:149–156.

8. Sharma S, Sreenivasulu N, Harshavardhan VT, Seiler C, Sharma S, Khalil ZN, Akhunov E, Sehgal SK, Röder MS (2010) Delineating the structural, functional and evolutionary relationships of sucrose phosphate synthase gene family II in wheat and related grasses. BMC Plant Biology 10:134.

7. Sehgal SK, Kaur G, Sharma I, Bains NS (2008) Development and molecular marker analysis of Karnal bunt resistant near isogenic lines in bread wheat variety PBW 343. Indian J Genet Plant Breed 68: 21-25.

6. Singh S, Sharma I, Sehgal SK, Bains NS, Guo Z, Nelson J, Bowden R (2007) Molecular mapping of QTLs for Karnal bunt resistance in two recombinant inbred populations of bread wheat. Theor Appl Genet 116: 147-154.

5. Sharma I, Bains NS, Sirari A, Sangha KS, Sehgal SK, Bodhraj (2007) Genetics of leaf and stripe rust resistance in a multiple disease resistant stock of bread wheat. Crop Improv 34:8-11.

4. Sehgal SK (2006) Studies on incorporation of Karnal bunt resistance and productivity traits from Aegilops tauschii Coss. into wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Punjab Agricultural University, India. Doctoral Dissertation

3. Sehgal SK, Kaur G, Gupta ML (2004) Induction of androgenesis and plant regeneration in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea L. Coss.) J Pl Sci Res 20: 125-27.

2. Sehgal SK (2001) Haploid induction using anther and microspore culture in oilseed Brassicas. Punjab Agricultural University, India. Master’s Dissertation

1. Sharma S, Bajaj RK, Kaur N, Sehgal SK (2003) Combining ability studies in sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) Crop Improv 30: 69-73.

Applications of Research

The major objectives of the breeding program are:
1) Develop and release new superior winter wheat varieties with high yield stability, durable disease resistance, and improved end-use quality for South Dakota and Northern Great Plains.
2) Identify and genetically characterize germplasm with yield potential and quality traits, resistance to diseases and insect pests, drought, heat and winter hardiness and utilize them to enhance the productivity and resistance levels in winter wheat germplasm, thus leading to the development of improved varieties.



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