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Sunish Kumar Sehgal

Photo of Sunish Kumar Sehgal
Title Assistant Professor/Winter Wheat Breeder
Office Building Seedhouse
Room Number 113B, Young Brothers SeedTechnology Building
Mailing Address South Dakota State University
Agronomy, Horticulture & Plant Science
Box 2108, Jackrabbit Dr,
Brookings, SD 57007

Dr. Sehgal received his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Punjab Agricultural University. He worked as 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 30 peer-reviewed articles including Nature, PNAS, Genome Biology, Plant Physiology, New Phytologist, Genetics, BMC Genomics, BMC Plant Biology, Plant Beeding and Theoretical and Applied Genetics.

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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.

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)

Academic Interests/Expertise

Wheat Breeding and Genetics

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.

Academic Responsibilities

PS787 -Advanced Plant Breeding (Spring odd year)
BIOS 664/BIOS792 -Molecular Plant Physiology (Team taught, Spring)

Committee Activities

National Plant Breeding Coordinating Committee
USDA Wheat Crop Germplasm Committee
USWBSI-HWW-CP (Executive member)
SDSU Variety Release Committee

Work Experience

Assistant Professor (Winter Wheat Breeder), South Dakota State University, from October 2014 - present

Former Positions Held

Senior Scientist, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS from Jul 2013 - Sep 2014
Research Associate, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS from Nov 2006 - Jun2013


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 2017 to 2018 (105,000 USD)
2. Accelerated breeding for disease and insect pest resistance in winter wheat funded by South Dakota Wheat Commission from 2017 to 2018 (30,000 USD)
3. Winter Wheat Breeding for Scab Resistance in South Dakota funded by USDA-USWBSI from 2016 to 2018 (103,200 USD)
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 (432,541 USD)
5. Breeding for rust resistance NACA agreement funded by USDA as a multi-year extramural nonassistance cooperative agreement 2015 to 2018 (72,295 USD)


PVP Oahe (Submitted)

Awards & 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.

Research/Scholarship Responsibilities

Winter Wheat Varieties Released:
'Thompson' (HRW, 2017)
'Oahe' (HRW, 2016)

32. Appels, R., Eversole, K., Feuillet, C., Keller, B., Rogers, J., Stein, N., Pozniak, C.J., Choulet, F., Distelfeld, A., Poland, J., Ronen, G., Sharpe, A.G., 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, R.K., Paux, E., Rigault, P., Tibbits, J., Tiwari, V., Spannagl, M., Lang, D., Gundlach, H., Haberer, G., Mayer, K.F.X., 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, R.H., Arnaud, D., Chalabi, S., Chalhoub, B., Cory, A., Datla, R., Davey, M.W., Jacobs, J., Robinson, S.J., Steuernagel, B., van Ex, F., Wulff, B.B.H., 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, J.D.G., 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, B.A., 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, O.P., Jindal, S., Kaur, P., Malik, P., Sharma, P., Yadav, B., Singh, N.K., Khurana, J., Chaudhary, C., Khurana, P., Kumar, V., Mahato, A., Mathur, S., Sevanthi, A., Sharma, N., Tomar, R.S., Holušová, K., Plíhal, O., Clark, M.D., 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, P.E., Edwards, D., Hayashi, S., Tulpová, Z., Visendi, P., Cui, L., Du, X., Feng, K., Nie, X., Tong, W. and Wang, L. (2018) Shifting the limits in wheat research and breeding using a fully annotated reference genome. Science, 361.

31. Ayana GT, Ali S, Sidhu JS, Gonzalez Hernandez JL, Turnipseed B and Sehgal SK* (2018) Genome-Wide Association Study for Spot Blotch Resistance in Hard Winter Wheat. Front. Plant Sci. 9:926. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.00926

30. Wiersma, AT, Whetten RB, Zhang G, Sehgal SK, Kolb FL, Poland JA, Mason RE,Carter AH, Cowger C, and Olson EL (2018). Registration of Two Wheat Germplasm Lines Fixed for Pm58. J. Plant. Reg. 0. doi:10.3198/jpr2017.06.0036crg

29. 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.

28. Abdullah S, Sehgal SK and 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.

27. 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.

26. 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 33:133-139.

25. 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.

24. Gong W, Gong W, HanR, 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.

23. 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.

22. 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.

21. 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.

20. 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.

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

18. 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.

17. 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.

16. 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.

15. 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.

14. 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 and 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.

13. 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.

12. 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.

11. 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.

10. 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.

9. 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.

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

7. 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.

6. 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.

5. 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.

4. 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.

3. 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.

2. 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.

1. 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.


Ph.D. Plant Breeding, 2005, Punjab Agricultural University, India
M.S. Plant Breeding, 2001, Punjab Agricultural University, India
B. S. Agriculture (Honors Plant Breeding & Seed Technolgy) 1999, CSS Haryana Agricultural University, India

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.