Crop breeding and genomics

Plant Genetics and Development

Research in my group focuses on increasing the productivity of crops in order to contribute towards alleviating the problem of food security. At the present time, we focus on tef (Eragrostis tef), economically important but under-researched cereal crop widely cultivated in the Horn of Africa. Tef is particularly important because it adapts to diverse climatic and soil conditions and also tolerates many pests and diseases. In addition to its agronomic and nutritional benefits, the seeds of tef are free of gluten, a substance present in wheat and other cereals for which high number of people are allergic. We implement both genetics and genomics tools in order to develop cultivars with increased tolerance to lodging and scarce soil moisture. In order to achieve these goals, we apply high-throughput techniques such as TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes) and MutMap. Information from our tef genome sequencing supports the TILLING and marker-assisted breeding particularly the SSR (Single Nucleotide Repeat) method. Several candidate tef lines tolerant to lodging and drought are introgressed to locally adapted cultivars and being tested in the field in Ethiopia.


Recent Publications

  • Identification of miRNAs linked with the drought response of tef [Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter]
    Martinelli, F; Cannarozzi, G; Balan, B; Siegrist, F; Weichert, A; Blosch, R; Tadele, Z
    JOURNAL OF PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, 224 163-172; 10.1016/j.jplph.2018.02.011 MAY-JUN 2018
  • Technology generation to dissemination: lessons learned from the tef improvement project 
    Cannarozzi, Gina; Chanyalew, Solomon; Assefa, Kebebew; et al. 
    EUPHYTICA, 214 (2): FEB 2018 Article (Details)
  • Identification and characterization of durum wheat microRNAs in leaf and root tissues 
    Fileccia, Veronica; Bertolini, Edoardo; Ruisi, Paolo; et al. 
    FUNCTIONAL & INTEGRATIVE GENOMICS, 17 (5): 583-598 SEP 2017 Article (Details)
  • Screening of ethyl methane sulphonate mutagenized tef [Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter] population identifies Al-tolerant lines 
    Desta, Ermias A.; Hussein, Shimelis; Laing, Mark; et al. 
    JOURNAL OF PLANT INTERACTIONS, 12 (1): 170-176 2017 Article (Details)
  • Mutagenesis and TILLING to Dissect Gene Function in Plants 
    Tadele, Zerihun 
    CURRENT GENOMICS, 17 (6): 499-508 2016 Review (Details)
  • Gibberellin Deficiency Confers Both Lodging and Drought Tolerance in Small Cereals 
    Plaza-Wuthrich, Sonia; Blosch, Regula; Rindisbacher, Abiel; et al. 
    FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE, 7: MAY 13 2016 Article (Details)
Zerihun Tadele

PD Dr. Zerihun Tadele
University of Bern
Institute of Plant Sciences
3013 Bern

Tel: +41 (0)31 631 49 56

Research topics

  • Breeding for lodging tolerance
  • Breeding for drought tolerance
  • Tef genome & transcriptome sequencing



  • Breeding crops for challenging environment
  • Understanding mechanism of lodging & drought tolerance
  • Modern crop improvement techniques
  • Genome and transcriptome assembly, analysis and annotation
  • Networking of orphan crops research
  • Private-public partnership in technology development and transfer