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

  • Genetic characterization of the orphan crop tef [Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter] accessions using simple sequence repeat markers
    Asmare, Fasil; Abebe, Tiegist Dejene; Gebrehawaryat, Yosef; Tadele, Zerihun
    Genetic Resources And Crop Evolution, 10.1007/s10722-021-01126-3   Early Access: FEB 2021
  • Panicle Angle is an Important Factor in Tef Lodging Tolerance
    Bloesch, Regula; Plaza-Wuethrich, Sonia; de Reuille, Pierre Barbier; Weichert, Annett; Routier-Kierzkowska, Anne-Lise; et al.
    Frontiers In Plant Science 11 Article Number: 61 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2020.00061   FEB 13 2020
  • Phenotypic diversity of enset (Ensete ventricosum (Welw.) Cheesman) landraces used in traditional medicine
    Nuraga, Gizachew Woldesenbet; Feyissa, Tileye; Tesfaye, Kassahun; Demissew, Sebsebe; Tadele, Zerihun
    Genetic Resources And Crop Evolution,  DOI: 10.1007/s10722-019-00832-3
  • Promoting orphan crops research and development
    Tadele, Z; Bartels, D
    PLANTA, 250 (3):675-676; SI 10.1007/s00425-019-03235-x SEP 2019
  • Orphan crops: their importance and the urgency of improvement
    Tadele, Z
    PLANTA, 250 (3):677-694; SI 10.1007/s00425-019-03210-6 SEP 2019
  • Significance and prospects of an orphan crop tef
    Chanyalew, S; Ferede, S; Damte, T; Fikre, T; Genet, Y; Kebede, W; Tolossa, K; Tadele, Z; Assefa, K
    PLANTA, 250 (3):753-767; SI 10.1007/s00425-019-03209-z SEP 2019
  • Genotyping by Sequencing Reasserts the Close Relationship between Tef and Its Putative Wild Eragrostis Progenitors
    Girma, D; Cannarozzi, G; Weichert, A; Tadele, Z
    DIVERSITY-BASEL, 10 (2):10.3390/d10020017 JUN 2018
  • Genetic diversity in the Ethiopian garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.) using microsatellite markers.
    Tadesse, Legesse; Mekbib, Firew; Wakjira, Adugna; Tadele, Zerihun (2018).
    Current Plant Biology, 16, pp. 32-40. Elsevier
  • Correlation and path coefficient analysis of yield and quality components of garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.) genotypes in Ethiopia.
    Tadesse, Legesse; Mekbib, Firew; Wakjira, Adugna; Tadele, Zerihun (2018).
    Journal of plant breeding and crop science, 10(10), pp. 290-297. Academic Journals 10.5897/JPBCS2018.0757
  • Genetic diversity of seed storage protein in the Ethiopian garden cress (Lepidium sativum L.).
    Tadesse, Legesse; Mekbib, Firew; Wakjira, Adugna; Tadele, Zerihun (2018).
    African Journal of Biotechnology, 17(37), pp. 1152-1161. Academic Journals 10.5897/AJB2018.16587
  • 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
  • Tef (Eragrostis tef) Variety ‘Tesfa’.
    Kebede, Worku; Tolossa, Kidist; Hussein, Nigussu; Fikre, Tsion; Genet, Yazachew; Bekele, Abate; Gebremeskel, Kidu; Fentahun, Atinkut; Daba, Habte; Plaza-Wüthrich, Sonia; Blösch, Regula; Chanyalew, Solomon; Asefa, Kebedew; Tadele, Zerihun (2018).
    Ethiopian journal of agricultural sciences, 28(2), pp. 107-112. African Journals Online
  • Technology generation to dissemination: lessons learned from the tef improvement project 
    Cannarozzi, Gina; Chanyalew, Solomon; Assefa, Kebebew; et al. 
    EUPHYTICA, 214 (2): FEB 2018
  • African Orphan Crops under Abiotic Stresses: Challenges and Opportunities
    Zerihun Tadele
    Scientifica 2018, Article ID 1451894, 19 pages, 10.1155/2018/1451894
  • Identification and characterization of durum wheat microRNAs in leaf and root tissues 
    Fileccia, V; Bertolini, E; Ruisi, P; et al. 
  • 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
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