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Rajandeep Sekhon

Assistant Professor

Office: 314 Biosystems Research Complex
Phone: 864-656-1725


 Educational Background

Ph.D. Plant Biology
Pennsylvania State University 2007

M.S. Plant Breeding
Punjab Agricultural University (India) 1994

B.S. Agriculture
Punjab Agricultural University (India) 1986

 Courses Taught

GEN/BCHM 8100 Principles of Molecular Biology
GEN 4900 Epigenetics
GEN 3020 Molecular and General Genetics
GEN/BCHM 3040 Molecular Biology Laboratory
GEN 4910 Directed Research in Genetics
BCHM 4910 Directed Research in Biochemistry

 Research Interests

Field of functional genomics has been revolutionized by availability of cutting edge tools that provide a comprehensive picture of genotype-phenotype relationship. My lab employs high-resolution genotypic data, tissue-specific transcriptomes, and statistical genomic approaches to identify genetic elements underlying quantitative traits. We are also interested in understanding the dynamics of plant epigenome during developmental transitions.
Specific research objectives of the Sekhon lab are: (1) to mine natural variation for elucidating genetic architecture of complex (quantitative) agronomic and biofuel traits using a combination of contemporary and conventional approaches including association genetics, QTL mapping, and reverse and forward genetics, (2) to develop transcriptomic resources for gene discovery, and for understanding the temporal and spatial gene expression patterns using RNA-sequencing, and 3) to understand the role of epigenetic mechanisms (DNA methylation and chromatin modifications) in regulation of key developmental transitions during plant life cycle.


Dowling ME, Schnabel G, Williamson M, Sekhon RS, and Zielinski KJ (2016). First Report of Sorghum Anthracnose Caused by Colletotrichum sublineola in South Carolina. Plant Disease 100: 1236-1236.

Sekhon RS, Breitzman MW, Renato Rodrigues, R, Santoro, N, Rooney, WL, de Leon N, Kaeppler S (2016) Comparative analysis of stover composition in maize and sorghum reveals remarkable plasticity for carbohydrate accumulation. Frontiers in Plant Sciences.

Zhang X, Hirsch CN, Sekhon RS, de Leon N, Kaeppler S (2015) Developmental and molecular mechanisms underlying maternal control of seed. Journal of Experimental Botany. doi:10.1093/jxb/erw006

Stelpflug S*, Sekhon RS*, Vailancourt B, Hirsch CN, Buell CR, de Leon N, Kaeppler SM (2015) An expanded maize gene expression atlas based on RNA-sequencing and its use to explore root development. Plant Genome 9:doi:10.3835/plantgenome2015.04.0025 (* - Equal authorship)

Sekhon RS, Hirsch CN, Childs KL, Breitzman MW, Kell P, Duvick S, Spalding EP, Buell CR, de Leon N, Kaeppler S (2014) Phenotypic and transcriptional analysis of divergently selected maize populations reveals the role of developmental timing in seed size determination. Plant Physiology 165: 658-669 (Selected as cover feature)

Hirsch CN, Foerster JM, Johnson JM, Sekhon RS, Muttoni G, Vaillancourt B, Peñagaricano F, Lindquist E, Pedraza MA, Barry K, et al. (2014) Insights into the maize pan-genome and pan-transcriptome. Plant Cell 26: 121-135

Robbins ML, Roy A, Wang P, Gaffoor I, Sekhon RS, Buanafina MM, Rohila JS, Chopra S (2013) Comparative proteomics analysis by DIGE and iTRAQ provides insight into the regulation of phenylpropanoids in maize. Journal of Proteomics. Journal of proteomics 93: 254-275

Sekhon RS, Briskine R, Hansey C, Myers C, Springer N, Buell CR, de Leon N, Kaeppler SM (2013) Maize gene atlas developed by RNA sequencing and comparative evaluation of transcriptomes based on RNA sequencing and microarrays. PLoS One 8(4): e61005

Beissinger TM, Hirsch CN, Sekhon RS, Foerster JM, Johnson JM, Muttoni G, Vaillancourt B, Buell CR, Kaeppler SM, de Leon N (2013) Marker density and read-depth for genotyping populations using next-generation sequencing approaches. Genetics doi:10.1534/genetics.112.147710

Sekhon RS, Wang P, Sidorenko LV, Chandler VL, Chopra S (2012) Maize unstable factor for orange1 is required for maintaining silencing associated with paramutation at the pericarp color1 and booster1 loci. PLoS Genetics 8: e1002980. doi 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002980

Sekhon RS, Childs KL, Santoro N, Foster C, Buell CR, de Leon N, Kaeppler SM (2012) Transcriptional and metabolic analysis of senescence induced by preventing pollination in maize. Plant Physiology 159: 1730-1744

Chia J –M, ...Sekhon RS., …Ware D (consortium of 38 authors) (2012) Capturing extant variation from a genome in flux: Maize HapMap II. Nature Genetics 44, 803–807.

Hansey CN, Vaillancourt B, Sekhon RS, de Leon N, Kaeppler SM, Buell CR (2012) Maize (Zea mays L.) genome diversity as revealed by RNA-sequencing. PLoS One 7(3): e33071. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033071

Davidson RM, Hansey CN, Gowda M, Chlds KL, Lin H, Brieanne V, Sekhon RS, de Leon N, Kaeppler SM, Ning J, Buell CR (2011) Utility of RNA-seq for analysis of maize reproductive transcriptomes. The Plant Genome 4: 191-203

Sekhon RS, Lin H, Childs KL, Hansey CN, Buell CR, de Leon N, Kaeppler SM (2011) Genome-wide atlas of transcription through maize development. The Plant Journal. 66: 553–563 (Selected as a cover feature).

Hansey C, Johnson JM, Sekhon RS, Kaeppler SM, de Leon N (2011) Genetic diversity of a maize association population with restricted phenology. Crop Science. 51:704-715

Rhee Y, Sekhon RS, Chopra S, and Kaeppler S (2010) Tissue culture-induced novel epialleles of a Myb transcription factor encoded by pericarp color1 in maize. Genetics. 186:843-55.

Robbins ML, Wang P, Sekhon RS, and Chopra S (2009) Gene structure induced epigenetic modifications of pericarp color1 alleles of maize result in tissue-specific mosaicism. PLoS ONE. 4, e8231

Sekhon RS, and Chopra S (2009) Progressive loss of DNA methylation releases epigenetic gene silencing from a tandemly repeated maize Myb gene. Genetics. 181: 81-91

Bharaj TS, Sekhon RS, Singh O, Gautam RK, Mangat GS, Singh N, Kaur R (2009) PR 120: a new mid-early maturing variety of rice (Oryza sativa L.). Journal of Research, Punjab Agric. Univ. 46: 104.

Robbins ML, Sekhon RS, Meeley R, and Chopra S (2008) A Mutator transposon insertion is associated with ectopic expression of a tandemly repeated multicopy Myb gene pericarp color1 of maize. Genetics. 178: 1859-1874.


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