Devinder Sandhu, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology
Adjunct Professor of Soil and Waste Resources,
College of Natural Resources

Office: CNR 467
Phone: (715) 346-4258
Fax: (715) 346-3624


Ph.D., Agronomy - Univ. of Nebraska - Lincoln (2000)
M.S., Plant Breeding - Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India (1995)
B.A., Agriculture - Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India (1993)


Bio 130 - Introduction to Plant Biology​

Bio 210 - Genetics

Bio 310 - Plant Genetics

Bio 399- Independent Study in Plant Genetics

Bio 490 - Seminar in Plant Genetics


My Faculty Home Page​

Professional Affiliations

  • Genetics Society of America (GSA)
  • Crop Science Society of America (CSSA)

Research Interests

Alternate dwarfing system in wheat

Genes influencing plant height have revolutionized agriculture in the late 1960s by almost doubling the wheat and rice production. The so-called ‘green revolution’ genes in wheat and rice encode proteins that either regulate synthesis of plant growth hormone gibberellins (GA) or modulate its signaling pathway. GA mutants adversely affect seedling emergence from deep planting depths that is a common practice for low rainfall production areas of the world. About 86% of the US wheat and about 50% of the wheat producing area of the world is drought prone.

In addition to GA dwarfs, agronomically relevant reduction in plant height can also be achieved by mutating genes involved in biosynthesis or transportation of other plant hormones like brassinosteroids and auxins. We are currently exploring few candidate genes which may lead to reduction in plant height without lowering seedling emergence under drought conditions.

Characterization of genes involved in soybean fertility

In soybean W4 controls the anthocyanin pigment biosynthesis in flowers. Mutations in the W4 gene result in reduced levels of purple pigments in flowers. The mutant allele, w4-m, is characterized by variegated flowers. Recently, the W4 gene has been cloned. Loss of function in the w4-m mutant was shown to be due to insertion of a 20,548 base pair long active transposable element.

In collaboration with Dr. Reid Palmer and Dr Madan Bhattacharyya at Iowa State University, we started a study using the w4-m system, where we looked for reversion of variegated flower to normal purple color flower. If the reversion of the unstable allele is the result of an excision of the transposable element from the w4-m locus, new mutations might be detected among the progenies of these revertants. Such mutants would be expected if the excised element were to insert at a second locus. We have identified several male-sterile female-sterile mutants from the progeny of w4-m line.

We are studying association between mutation and transposable element and utilizing transposon tagging to clone male-sterility, female-sterility genes in soybean.

Honors and Awards

2013 Nominated for Eugene Katz Distinguished Faculty Award, UWSP.
2012 Pucci Teaching Award. Department of Biology, UWSP.
2012 Excellence in Scholarship. Department of Biology, UWSP.
2010 University Scholar Award, UWSP.
2010 Excellence in Scholarship. Department of Biology, UWSP.
2010 Nomination for Pucci Teaching Award. Department of Biology, UWSP.
2009 Nomination for UWSP University Scholar Award.
2009 Excellence In Scholarship, Department of Biology, UWSP
2008 Faculty Diversity Research Award, IRE UW System


2012-13 United Soybean Board – Generating resources for functional analyses of soybean genes that control the seed protein and oil contents. Bhattacharyya MK, Sandhu D, Palmer, R. (Total $148,850; UWSP share $64,866)
2010-14 NSF - Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development. Gill, KS, Sandhu D, Dhugga, K, Johal, G. An alternate dwarfing system to improve seedling emergence, abiotic stress tolerance, root characteristics and nutrient uptake in wheat and other cereals. (Total $1,502,710; UWSP share $291,512)
2008-14 USDA. Bamberg, J.B., Harvey, M.J., Jansky, S., Sandhu, D., Barta, T. Genetic improvement of potato for tuber calcium uptake. (Total $400,000; UWSP share $91,524)
2008-09 Faculty Diversity Research Grant, UWsys. Sandhu, D. Molecular characterization of two temperature sensitive male sterile mutant genes in soybean. ($12,500)
2007-08 American Science and Technology C,orp. Singsaas, E., Sharkey, T. Sandhu, D. Industrial production of the bio-rubber precursor isoprene. ($25,139)

Select Publications

2013 Ott A., Yang Y., Bhattacharyya M.K., Horner, H.T., Palmer R.G., and Sandhu D. 2013. Molecular mapping of D1, D2 and ms5 revealed linkage between the cotyledon color locus D2 and the male-sterility locus ms5 in soybean. Plants 2: 441-454.
Raval J., Baumbach J., Ollhoff A., Pudake R.N., Palmer R.G., Bhattacharyya M.K., and Sandhu D. 2013. A candidate male-sterile, female-sterile gene tagged by the soybean endogenous transposon, Tgm9. Functional & Integrative Genomics 13: 67-73.
2012 Baumbach J., Rogers J.P., Slattery R.A., Narayanan N.N., Xu M., Palmer R.G., Bhattacharyya M.K., and Sandhu D. 2012. Segregation distortion in a region containing a male-sterility, female-sterility locus in soybean. Plant Science 195: 151-156.
Sumit, R., Sahu, B.B., Xu, M., Sandhu, D. and Bhattacharyya, M.K. 2012. Arabidopsis nonhost resistance gene Pss1 confers immunity against an oomycete and a fungal pathogen but not a bacterial pathogen that cause diseases in soybean. BMC Plant Biology 12: 87
2011 Ott, A., Trautschold, B., and Sandhu, D. 2011. Using microsatellites to understand the physical distribution of recombination on soybean chromosomes. PLoS One 6 (7): e22306.
Frasch, R., Weigand, C., Perez, P.T., Cianzio, S., Palmer, R., and Sandhu, D. 2011. Genetic analysis of 2 environmentally sensitive male-sterile mutants in soybean. Journal of Heredity 102: 11-16.
Slattery, R., Pritzl, S.v, Reinwand, K., Trautschold, B., Palmer, R., and Sandhu, D. 2011. Mapping eight male-sterile female sterile soybean mutants. Crop Science 51: 231-236.
2010 Schmutz J, Cannon SB, Schlueter J, Ma J, Mitros T, Nelson W, Hyten D, Song Q, Thelen J.J., Cheng J, Xu D, Hellsten U, May GD, Yu Y, Sakurai T, Umezawa T, Bhattacharyya MK, Sandhu D, Valliyodan B, Lindquist E, Peto M, Grant D, Shu S, Goodstein D, Berry K, Futrell-Griggs M, Abernathy B, Du J, Tian Z, Zhu L, Gill N, Joshi T, Libault M, Sethuraman A, Zhang X-C, Shinozaki K, Nguyen H, Wing RA, Cregan P, Specht J, Grimwood J, Rokhsar D, Stacey G, Shoemaker RC, Jackson SA. 2010. Genome sequence of the paleopolyploid soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.). Nature 463: 178-183.
Mutti, J.S., Sandhu, D., Sidhu, D. and Gill, K.S. 2010. Dynamic nature of a wheat centromere with a functional gene. Mol. Breeding 26: 177-187.
2009 Sandhu, D., Tasma, I.M., Frasch, R., and Bhattacharyya, M.K. 2009. Systemic acquired resistance in soybean is regulated by two proteins, orthologous to Arabidopsis NPR1. BMC Plant Biol. 9: 105.
Cervantes-Martinez, I., Sandhu, D., Xu, M., Ortiz-Perez, E., Kato, K.K., Horner, H.T., and Palmer, R.G. 2009. The male sterility locus ms3 is present in a fertility controlling gene cluster in soybean. J. Hered. 100: 565-570.
2008 Palmer, R., Sandhu, D., Curran, K., Bhattacharyya, M.K. (2008). Molecular mapping of 36 soybean male-sterile, female-sterile mutants. Theor. Appl. Genet. 117: 711-719.

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