Department of Population Genetics and Breeding

Head of the department: RNDr. Andrej Kormuťák, DrSc.tl_files/images/siska.jpg

Other members:
RNDr. Alena Gajdošová, CSc.

RNDr. Martin Galgóci, PhD.
Ing. Andrea Hricová, PhD.
RNDr. Gabriela Libiaková, CSc.
RNDr. Terézia Salaj, DrSc.
doc. RNDr. Ján Salaj, DrSc.

PhD. students:
Mgr. Júlia Hunková

Technical assistance:
Helena Ďuricová
Ivana Galbičková
Margita Pavčírová

Department of Population Genetics and Breeding (DPGB) is focused on the following tasks:

1) The study of population biodiversity and hybridological relationships using biochemical and DNA martl_files/images/gel.jpgkers and study of the woody species adaptation to rapidly changing environmental conditions
The population studies are primarily oriented on the genetic structure of the fir populations in Slovakia as well as on the hybrid swarms of Scots pine and Mountain pine in the north of country. As molecular markers in these studies, preferably chloroplast DNA and nuclear microsatellite DNA are used along with some morphometric characteristics of the needles. The range of introgression between the Scots pine and Mountain pine as well as the hybrid nature of their hybrid swarms are verified at the level of chloroplast and mitochondrial DNA. Considerable attention is also paid to the hybrid swarm fertility of the above mentioned pine species. In the case of interspecific hybrids of firs (Abies sp.), their morphology and metabolic potential under conditions of environmental stress is assessed.

2) Clonal propagation of promising interspecific fir hybrids and other conifers through somatic embryogenesis and micropropagation of economically significant species of small fruits under in vitro conditions
In the issue of forest trees, a research is oriented on the induction of somatic embryogenesis from immature and mature zygotic embryos of the species Pinus nigra and interspecific hybrids of firs (Abies sp.), and on the characterization of the process of somatic embryogenesis on proteomic level. Somatic embryogenesis is also a useful system to study the transfer of genes by the use of biolistic and Agrobacterium tumefaciens approaches.


In the issue of small fruits, research activities are concentrated on the development of efficient protocols for in vitro regeneration and micropropagation of selected varieties of biologically valuable species having importance in the human diet, such as species of the genus Vaccinium, Rubus, Amelanchier and Lonicera. Multiplication of axillary shoots from dormant buds and adventitious regeneration are among the most used techniques for the rapid and effective production of plants and create also a system for the application of genetic transformations. Some new varieties of these species introduced to Slovakia are suitable for the cultivation as alternative unconventional species of small fruits.

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3) Development of techniques for long-term conservation of genetic resources of forest and fruit trees, including the embryogenic tissue of studied species, by cryopreservation
Research is oriented to the development of protocols for the successful cryopreservation of the embryogenic tissue of conifers and in vitro material of small fruits using slow freezing or vitrification method followed by study of physiological, structural parameters and genetic stability of the cryopreserved tissue. The aim is long-term conservation of rare genetic resources (e.g. obtained hybrid firs and in vitro propagules of selected fruit varieties) for further use in the breeding and propagation.

4) Mutation breeding and selection of amaranth lines for food purposes
The species of the genus Amaranthus are cultivated as vegetable or grain types, many of which are resistant to diseases and are drought, high temperature and salinity tolerant. Therefore, they represent an alternative in terms of global warming. In comparison with cereals or legumes, amaranth has significant nutritional potential and interesting chemical composition. The seeds have a high nutritional value and their major characteristic is the low proportion of gluten proteins. Therefore, products made from amaranth seeds can be consumed in the gluten-free diet. For its high adaptability and nutritional value, in particular the protein content that meets the nutritional needs and criteria, the amaranth as one of the most important pseudocereals has the potential to regulate food safety.

The multi-disciplinary approach aimed at improving the quality and quantity of amaranth production using radiation mutagenesis was established in the 1998 in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. As a result, a collection of mutant lines with significantly increased weight of thousand seeds was esta
tl_files/images/Pribina.jpgblished at IPGB. The selected mutant lines are currently being analyzed on genetic, biochemical and molecular level using modern -omics technologies. Attention is drawn also to development of molecular markers and identification of the genes encoding important characters which would significantly increase the speed and effectiveness of breeding effort. As a result of the breeding effort the first variety of Amaranthus cruentus 'PRIBINA' was registered in Slovakia in 2013. This research was made in cooperation with the Department of Ecology, the Prešov University in Prešov. The variety is distinguished by a genetically fixed high weight of thousand seeds what is important yield element. From a nutritional standpoint, the variety is balanced, the coefficient of nutritional quality is comparable even a little higher than that of the original genotype "Ficha". The variety is intended for seed use in food industry. In 2015, this variety has been granted Breeder's Certificate and, the Institute was awarded a "Golden sickle" on International Exhibition Agrokomplex 2015. In 2014, the next amaranth mutant line was proceeded to the state variety examination with the aim to register new variety.