Student examining a specimen in a microscope

Gene Discovery

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Our long-term goal is to use mPing based elements as tools for gene discovery in crop species. The transposon has already been placed into soybean, arabidopsis, and wheat. There are two approaches for using mPing in gene discovery. The first is using the element to “break” genes by inserting the element in or near the gene. By breaking the gene, the impact of the loss of the gene can be observed and hypotheses on the function of that gene can be formed. The second strategy uses mPing for activation tagging. An enhancer sequence is placed into the middle of the mPingelement. When the activation tag inserts near a gene, that gene is upregulated and over-expression can occur. The impact of overexpression of the gene can be used to gain insight into the function of that gene. 


  • Transfer mPing to additional crop species and test its ability to induce mutations.  
  • Test alternative forms of mPing that can cause overexpression and silencing.
  • Identify host mechanisms that regulate mPing transposition

This project is a collaboration with the University of Georgia, University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and University of Minnesota. Our group has produced populations of mutagenized plants. Efforts are underway to characterize these mutants and make these resources available to the research community (see

Student with soybeans
closeup of soybeans