Molecular Breeding Department

The department investigates the genetic and physiological background of plant development and of resistance to various abiotic and biotic stressors in order to improve the adaptability of cereal species and to make the results available to breeders.

Scientific consultant, head of department: 

In the light of climate change it is of outstanding importance to carry out detailed studies on the genetic and physiological components responsible for the environmental adaptability of cereals and their tolerance of abiotic (heat and drought) and biotic (fungal diseases) stress, and to examine the genetic diversity of landraces and various cultivar collections in order to identify useful alleles. For this purpose a wide range of experiments are in progress under varying environmental conditions. Field trials are complemented by experiments in the greenhouse and in controlled climate chambers, where the effects of individual environmental factors can be studied separately and where stress can be applied in different stages of plant development. Phenomic analysis is performed on a wide range of genetic materials, on two-parent mapping populations and on GWA panels formed from cultivar collections in order to analyse the dynamics of growth and development, physiological parameters (photosynthesis, antioxidant enzyme systems) and yield components. Among the methods available to molecular genetics, routine use is made of QTL analysis for multiple traits in multiple environments, association analysis covering the whole genome and marker-assisted selection, together with the genomic technique of gene expression analysis.

Phenotyping of a mapping population in the greenhouse (Photo: Judit Bányai)

Phenotyping of a mapping population in the greenhouse (Photo: Judit Bányai)

Studies on the effect of heat and drought stress on winter wheat on the 16th day of treatment.

Studies on the effect of heat and drought stress on winter wheat on the 16th day of treatment.

Isolation of DNA from samples serving as the basis for marker-assisted selection (Photo: Judit Bányai)

Isolation of DNA from samples serving as the basis for marker-assisted selection (Photo: Judit Bányai)

Selected publications: 

Balla K, Bencze S, Bónis P, Árendás T, Veisz O (2014) Changes in the photosynthetic efficiency of winter wheat in response to abiotic stress. Cent Eur J Biol. 9:519-530. doi: 10.2478/s11535-014-0288-z

Balla K, Karsai I, Kiss T, Bencze S, Bedő Z, Veisz O (2012) Productivity of a doubled haploid winter wheat population under heat stress. Cent Eur J Biol.  7:1084-1091. doi: 10.2478/s11535-012-0097-1

Balla K, Rakszegi M, Li Z, Békés F, Bencze S, Veisz O (2011) Quality of winter wheat in relation to heat and drought shock after anthesis. Czech J Food Sci. 29:117-128.

Bányai J, Karsai I, Balla K, Kiss T, Bedő Z, Láng L (2014): Heat stress response of wheat cultivars with different ecological adaptation. Cereal Res Commun. 42:413-425. doi: 10.1556/CRC.42.2014.3.5

Bencze S, Bamberger Z, Janda T, Balla K, Varga B, Bedő Z, Veisz O (2014) Physiological response of wheat varieties to elevated atmospheric CO2 and low water supply levels. Photosynthetica 52:71-82. doi: 10.1111/jac.12127

Bencze S, Bamberger Z, Janda T, Balla K, Bedő Z, Veisz O (2011) Drought tolerance in cereals in terms of water retention, photosynthesis and antioxidant enzyme activities. Cent Eur J Biol. 6:376-387. doi: 10.2478/s11535-011-0004-1

Karsai I, Igartua E, Casas AM, Kiss T, Soós V, Balla K, Bedő Z, Veisz O (2013) Developmental patterns of a large set of barley (Hordeum vulgare) cultivars in response to ambient temperature. Ann Appl Biol. 162:309-323. doi:10.1111/aab.12023

Kiss T, Balla K, Veisz O, Láng L, Bedő Z, Griffiths S, Isaac P, Karsai I (2014) Allele frequencies in the VRN-A1, VRN-B1 and VRN-D1 vernalization response and PPD-B1 and PPD-D1 photoperiod sensitivity genes, and their effects on heading in a diverse set of wheat cultivars (Triticum aestivum L.). Mol Breeding. 34:297-310. doi: 10.1007/s11032-014-0034-2

Bencze S, Puskás K, Vida G, Karsai I, Balla K, Komáromi J, Veisz O (2017) Rising atmospheric CO2 concentration may imply higher risk of Fusarium mycotoxin contamination of wheat grains. Mycotox Research, 33:229–236. doi:10.1007/s12550-017-0281-2

Kiss, T, LE. Dixon, A Soltész, J Bányai, M Mayer, K Balla, V Allard, G Galiba, GA. Slafer, S Griffiths, O Veisz, I Karsai (2017) Effects of ambient temperature in association with photoperiod on phenology and on the expressions of major plant developmental genes in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Plant, Cell and Environment, 40(8):1629–1642; doi: 10.1111/pce.12971

Junior research associate: 
Scientific assistant: 
Assistant: 
Agricultural worker: