About the lab

We are plant genetics lab working on description of genetic variation in cultivated species and wild flora.

Featured projects (1)

The aim of the project is to study the genetic diversity of flora in Kazakhstan. The development of the project is presented on the web page kazflora.kz. The project is open for collaboration with local and foreign colleagues.

Featured research (89)

Leaf rust (LR) and stem rust (SR) are diseases increasingly impacting wheat production worldwide. Fungal pathogens producing rust diseases in wheat may cause yield losses of up to 50–60%. One of the most effective methods for preventing such losses is the development of resistant cultivars with high yield potential. This goal can be achieved through complex breeding studies, including the identification of key genetic factors controlling rust disease resistance. The objective of this study was to identify sources of tetraploid wheat resistance to LR and SR races, both at the seedling growth stage in the greenhouse and at the adult plant stage in field experiments, under the conditions of the North Kazakhstan region. A panel consisting of 193 tetraploid wheat accessions was used in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for the identification of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with LR and SR resistance, using 16,425 polymorphic single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers in the seedling and adult stages of plant development. The investigated panel consisted of seven tetraploid subspecies (Triticum turgidum ssp. durum, ssp. turanicum, ssp. turgidum, ssp. polonicum, ssp. carthlicum, ssp. dicoccum, and ssp. dicoccoides). The GWAS, based on the phenotypic evaluation of the tetraploid collection’s reaction to the two rust species at the seedling (in the greenhouse) and adult (in the field) stages, revealed 38 QTLs (p < 0.001), comprising 17 for LR resistance and 21 for SR resistance. Ten QTLs were associated with the reaction to LR at the seedling stage, while six QTLs were at the adult plant stage and one QTL was at both the seedling and adult stages. Eleven QTLs were associated with SR response at the seedling stage, while nine QTLs were at the adult plant stage and one QTL was at both the seedling and adult stages. A comparison of these results with previous LR and SR studies indicated that 11 of the 38 QTLs are presumably novel loci. The QTLs identified in this work can potentially be used for marker-assisted selection of tetraploid and hexaploid wheat for the breeding of new LR- and SR-resistant cultivars.
In recent years, leaf rust (LR) and stem rust (SR) have become a serious threat to bread wheat production in Kazakhstan. Most local cultivars are susceptible to these rusts, which has affected their yield and quality. The development of new cultivars with high productivity and LR and SR disease resistance, including using marker-assisted selection, is becoming an important priority in local breeding projects. Therefore, the search for key genetic factors controlling resistance in all plant stages, including the seedling stage, is of great significance. In this work, we applied a genome-wide association study (GWAS) approach using 212 local bread wheat accessions that were phenotyped for resistance to specific races of Puccinia triticina Eriks. (Pt) and Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici (Pgt) at the seedling stages. The collection was genotyped using a 20 K Illumina iSelect SNP assay, and 11,150 polymorphic SNP markers were selected for the association mapping. Using a mixed linear model, we identified 11 quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for five out of six specific races of Pt and Pgt. The comparison of the results from this GWAS with those from previously published work showed that nine out of eleven QTLs for LR and SR resistance had been previously reported in a GWAS study at the adult plant stages of wheat growth. Therefore, it was assumed that these nine common identified QTLs were effective for all-stage resistance to LR and SR, and the two other QTLs appear to be novel QTLs. In addition, five out of these nine QTLs that had been identified earlier were found to be associated with yield components, suggesting that they may directly influence the field performance of bread wheat. The identified QTLs, including novel QTLs found in this study, may play an essential role in the breeding process for improving wheat resistance to LR and SR.
Barley is one of the most important cereal crops in the world and the second cereal in Kazakhstan. Traditionally barley is cultivated in the northern part of Kazakhstan, however, due to high genetic plasticity , barley has a great potential for adaptation in different climatic conditions. High levels of grain quality and yield are major indicators of good adaptation. In this study 357 spring barley cultivars and breeding lines from Kazakhstan and the USA were grown in two regions of Kazakhstan (Kostanay and Almaty regions). The collection was analyzed using seven grain quality and two yield-related traits, including grain protein, starch, lipids, ash, cellulose and moisture contents, plumpness, as well as thousand kernel weight and yield per square meter. A significantly large environmental impact was observed for thousand kernel weight and grain protein content. Grain starch, lipids content, and yield per square meter showed stability in two regions and were mostly controlled by the genotype. Correlations of high yield with high grain protein and low starch content were observed in both north and southeast regions. In general, the field trials assessment showed that barley cultivation in Kostanay region suits well malting-oriented breeding and in Almaty region for animal feed-oriented breeding. Based on the obtained results, the list of barley cultivars and promising breeding lines with high yield and grain quality was selected as the optimal breeding source in Kostanay and Almaty regions.
The genetic relationship and population structure of two-rowed barley accessions from Kazakhstan were assessed using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers. Two different approaches were employed in the analysis: (1) the accessions from Kazakhstan were compared with barley samples from six different regions around the world using 1955 polymorphic SNPs, and (2) 94 accessions collected from six breeding programs from Kazakhstan were studied using 5636 polymorphic SNPs using a 9K Illumina Infinium assay. In the first approach, the neighbor-joining tree showed that the majority of the accessions from Kazakhstan were grouped in a separate subcluster with a common ancestral node; there was a sister subcluster that comprised mainly barley samples that originated in Europe. The Pearson’s correlation analysis suggested that Kazakh accessions were genetically close to samples from Africa and Europe. In the second approach, the application of the STRUCTURE package using 5636 polymorphic SNPs suggested that Kazakh barley samples consisted of five subclusters in three major clusters. The principal coordinate analysis plot showed that, among six breeding origins in Kazakhstan, the Krasnovodopad (KV) and Karaganda (KA) samples were the most distant groups. The assessment of the pedigrees in the KV and KA samples showed that the hybridization schemes in these breeding stations heavily used accessions from Ethiopia and Ukraine, respectively. The comparative analysis of the KV and KA samples allowed us to identify 214 SNPs with opposite allele frequencies that were tightly linked to 60 genes/gene blocks associated with plant adaptation traits, such as the heading date and plant height. The identified SNP markers can be efficiently used in studies of barley adaptation and deployed in breeding projects to develop new competitive cultivars.
Background Bread wheat is the most important cereal in Kazakhstan, where it is grown on over 12 million hectares. One of the major constraints affecting wheat grain yield is drought due to the limited water supply. Hence, the development of drought-resistant cultivars is critical for ensuring food security in this country. Therefore, identifying quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with drought tolerance as an essential step in modern breeding activities, which rely on a marker-assisted selection approach. Methods A collection of 179 spring wheat accessions was tested under irrigated and rainfed conditions in Northern Kazakhstan over three years (2018, 2019, and 2020), during which data was collected on nine traits: heading date (HD), seed maturity date (SMD), plant height (PH), peduncle length (PL), number of productive spikes (NPS), spike length (SL), number of kernels per spike (NKS), thousand kernel weight (TKW), and kernels yield per m ² (YM2). The collection was genotyped using a 20,000 (20K) Illumina iSelect SNP array, and 8,662 polymorphic SNP markers were selected for a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify QTLs for targeted agronomic traits. Results Out of the total of 237 discovered QTLs, 50 were identified as being stable QTLs for irrigated and rainfed conditions in the Akmola region, Northern Kazakhstan; the identified QTLs were associated with all the studied traits except PH. The results indicate that nine QTLs for HD and 11 QTLs for SMD are presumably novel genetic factors identified in the irrigated and rainfed conditions of Northern Kazakhstan. The identified SNP markers of the QTLs for targeted traits in rainfed conditions can be applied to develop new competitive spring wheat cultivars in arid zones using a marker-assisted selection approach.

Lab head

Yerlan Turuspekov
  • Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics
About Yerlan Turuspekov
  • Yerlan Turuspekov is leading the Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics at the Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology, Almaty, Kazakhstan. Yerlan does research in Agricultural Plant Science. He also involved in the evaluation of the genetic diversity of plant species in Kazakhstan.

Members (11)

Saule Abugalieva
  • Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology
Shyryn Almerekova
  • Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology
Yuliya Genievskaya
  • Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology
Alibek Zatybekov
  • Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology
Kanat Yermekbayev
  • Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology
Shynar Anuarbek
  • Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology
Akerke Amalova
  • Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology
Aida Baibulatova
  • Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology

Alumni (3)

Lyubov Volkova
  • Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology
Danara Ormanbekova
  • Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche, Ospedale Bellaria
Aidar Sumbembayev
  • Institute of Plant Biology and Biotechnology