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M. A. Saghai-Maroof

Dr. Saghai-Maroof
220 Ag Quad Lane
501 Latham Hall
Blacksburg, Virginia


I have a two-way appointment in research and teaching in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. The goal of my interdisciplinary research program is crop improvement through the use of molecular markers and the emerging genomics and bioinformatics tools. My research projects provide opportunities for training undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.  My teaching responsibilities have included courses in Plant Breeding/Genetics, Molecular Genetics for Crop Improvement and Plant Genomics.


  • Genomics
  • Crop Improvement


  • Ph.D., Genetics, University of California, Davis, 1981
  • B.S., Agriculture, University of Tabriz, Iran, 1975

My current research focus is on soybean genetics and genomics with an emphasis on:

  1. Investigation of the genetic basis of host resistance to Soybean mosaic virus, Phytophthora sojae (root/stem rot) and Pythium diseases
  2. Identification, discovery, characterization and deployment of genes controlling soybean seed quality and composition traits including phytic acid, carbohydrate and protein content. 

These projects are facilitated with the use of genome sequence information from soybean and its pathogens. Our findings are addressing agricultural and environmental sustainability issues as well as facilitating development of value-added soybeans for animal feed and human food through marker-assisted selection and molecular breeding programs.

  • CSES 4144: Plant Breeding and Genetics
  • CSES 5844: Molecular Genetics for Crop Improvement
  • CSES 5844: Plant Genomics

Professor | 1995 - Present
School of Plant & Environmental Sciences (Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Associate Professor | 1989
Crop & Soil Environmental Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Project Leader | 1986
Molecular Genetics, Research Department, ICI Seeds, Slater, Iowa

Postdoctoral Research Associate | 1983 
Department of Genetics
University of California, Davis

Postdoctoral Research Associate | 1982
Department of Vegetable Crops
University of California, Davis

Postdoctoral Research Associate | 1981
Department of Plant Pathology
University of California, Davis

  1. DeMers, L. C., V. Raboy, S. Li, and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2021. Network inference of transcriptional regulation in germinating low phytic acid soybean seeds. Front. Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.708286.
  2. Clevinger, E. M., R.  Biyashev, E. Lerch-Olson, H. Yu, C. Quigley, Q. Song, A. E. Dorrance, A. E. Robertson, and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2021. Identification of quantitative disease resistance loci towards four Pythium species in soybean. Front. Plant Sci. 12:644746. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.644746.
  3. Van, K., W. Rolling, R. M. Biyashev, R. L. Matthiesen, N. S. Abeysekara, A. E. Robertson, D. J. Veney, A. E. Dorrance, L. K. McHale, and M. A. Saghai Maroof.  2020. Mining germplasm panels and phenotypic datasets to identify loci for resistance to Phytophthora sojae in soybean. Plant Genome e20063 
  4. Redekar, N. R., N. M. Glover, R. M. Biyashev, B. K. Ha, V. Raboy, and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2020. Genetic interactions regulating seed phytate and oligosaccharides in soybean (Glycine max L.). PLOS ONE.
  5. DeMers, L. C., N. R. Redekar, A. Kachroo, S. A. Tolin, S. Li, and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2020. A transcriptional regulatory network of Rsv3-mediated extreme resistance against Soybean mosaic virus. PLOS ONE. 
  6. Hajimorad, M. R., L. L. Domier, S.A. Tolin, S. A. Whitham, and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2017. Soybean mosaic virus: A successful potyvirus with a wide distribution but restricted natural host range. Molecular Plant Pathology 19:1563-1579.
  7. Redekar, N. R., G. Pilot, V. Raboy, S. Li, and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2017. Inference of transcription regulatory network in low phytic acid soybean seeds. Front. Plant Sci. 8:2019. 
  8. Redekar, N. R., E. M. Clevinger, M. A. Laskar, R. M. Biyashev, T. Ashfield, R. V. Jensen, S. C. Jeong, S. A. Tolin, and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2016.  Candidate gene sequence analyses towards identifying Rsv3-type resistance to Soybean mosaic virus. Plant Genome. doi:10.3835/plantgenome2015.09.0088. 
  9. Matthiesen, R. L., N. S. Abeysekara, J. J. Ruiz-Rojas, R. M. Biyashev, M. A. Saghai Maroof, and A. E. Robertson. 2016. A method for combining isolates of Phytophthora sojae to screen for novel sources of resistance to Phytophthora stem and root rot in soybean. Plant Disease 100:1424-1428. 
  10. Ilut, D. C., A. E. Lipka, N. J. Dong, N. B. Dong, H. Kim, J. H. Kim, N. Redekar, K. Yang, W. Park, S. T. Kang, N. Kim, J. K. Moon, M. A. Saghai Maroof, M. A. Gore, and S. C. Jeong. 2015. Identification of haplotypes at the Rsv4 genomic region in soybean associated with durable resistance to soybean mosaic virus. Theoretical and Applied Genetics DOI 10.1007/s00122-015-2640-8. 
  11. Jervis J., C. Kastl, S. Hildreth, R. Biyashev, E. Grabau, M. A. Saghai Maroof, and R. Helm. 2015. Metabolite profiling of soybean seed extracts from near-isogenic low and normal phytate lines using orthogonal separation strategies. J. Agric. Food Chem. 63:9879-9887.
  12. Prince, S. J., S. Li, D. Qiu, J. V. Maldonado dos Santos, C. Chai, T. Joshi, G. Patil, B. Valliyodan, T. D. Vuong, M. Murphy, K. Krampis, D. M. Tucker, R. Biyashev, A. E. Dorrance, M. A. Saghai Maroof, D. Xu, J. G. Shannon, and H. T. Nguyen. 2015. Genetic variants in root architecture-related genes in a Glycine soja accession, a potential resource to improve cultivated soybean. BMC Genomics 16:132. doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1334-6. 
  13. Redekar N., R. Biyashev, R. Jensen, R. Helm, E. Grabau, M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2015. Genome-wide transcriptome analyses of developing seeds from low and normal phytic acid soybean lines. BMC Genomics 16:1074, DOI 10.1186/s12864-015-2283-9. 
  14. Tamang, B. G., J. O. Magliozzi, M. A. Saghai Maroof, and T. Fukao. 2014. Physiological and transcriptomic characterization of submergence and reoxygenation responses in soybean seedlings. Plant, Cell & Environment 37:2350–2365. 
  15. Wen, R. H., B. Khatabi, T. Ashfield, M. A. Saghai Maroof, and M. R. Hajimorad.  2013. The HC-Pro and P3 cistrons of an avirulent Soybean mosaic virus are recognized by different genes at the complex Rsv1 locus. Mol. Plant Microbe Inter. 26:203-215.
  16. Ashfield, T., A. N. Egan, B. E. Pfeil, N. W. G. Chen, R. Podicheti, M. B. Ratnaparkhe, C. Ameline-Torregrosa, R. Denny, S. Cannon, J. J. Doyle, V. Geffroy, B. A. Roe, M. A. Saghai Maroof, N. D. Young, and R. W. Innes. 2012. Evolution of a complex disease resistance gene cluster in diploid Phaseolus and tetraploid Glycine. Plant Physiology 159:336-354. 
  17. Suh, S. J., B. C. Bowman, N. Jeong, K. Yang, C. Kastl, S. A. Tolin, M. A. Saghai Maroof, and S. C. Jeong.  2011. The Rsv3 locus conferring resistance to Soybean mosaic virus is associated with a cluster of coiled-coil nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat genes. Plant Genome 4:55-64. 
  18. Saghai Maroof, M. A., D. M. Tucker, J. A. Skoneczka, B. C. Bowman, S. Tripathy, and S. A. Tolin. 2010. Fine mapping and candidate gene discovery of the Soybean mosaic virus resistance gene, Rsv4. Plant Genome 3:14-22. 
  19. Wang, H., L. Waller, S. Tripathy, S. K. St. Martin, L. Zhou, K. Krampis, D. M. Tucker, Y. Mao, I. Hoeschele, M. A. Saghai Maroof, B. M. Tyler, and A. E. Dorrance. 2010. Analysis of genes underlying soybean QTL conferring partial resistance to Phytophthora sojae. Plant Genome 3:23-40. 
  20. Saghai Maroof, M. A., N. M. Glover, R. M. Biyashev, G. R. Buss, and E. A. Grabau. 2009. Genetic basis of the low phytate trait in the soybean line CX1834. Crop Science 49:69-76. 
  21. Skoneczka, J., M. A. Saghai Maroof, C. Shang, and G. R. Buss. 2009. Identification of candidate gene mutation associated with low stachyose phenotype in soybean line PI200508. Crop Science 49:247-255.
  22. Saghai Maroof, M. A., S. C. Jeong, I. Gunduz, D. M. Tucker, G. R. Buss, and S. A. Tolin. 2008. Pyramiding of Soybean mosaic virus resistance genes by marker-assisted selection. Crop Science 48:517-525. 
  23. Innes, R. W., C. Ameline-Torregrosa, T. Ashfield, E. Cannon, S. B. Cannon, B. Chacko, N. W. G. Chen, A. Couloux, A. Dalwani, R. Denny, S. Deshpande, A. N. Egan, N. Glover, C. S. Hans, Stacy Howell, D. Ilut, S. Jackson, H. Lai, J. Mammadov, S. Martin del Campo, M. Metcalf, A. Nguyen, M. O’Bleness, B. E. Pfeil, R. Podicheti, M. B. Ratnaparkhe, S. Samain, I. Sanders, B. Ségurens, M. Sévignac, S. Sherman-Broyles, V. Thareau, D. M. Tucker, J. Walling, A. Wawrzynski, J. Yi, J. J. Doyle, V. Geffroy, B. A. Roe, M. A. Saghai Maroof, and N. D. Young. 2008. Differential accumulation of retroelements and diversification of NB-LRR disease resistance genes in duplicated regions following polyploidy in the ancestor of soybean. Plant Physiology 148: 1740-1759. 
  24. Gao, Y., C. Shang, M. A. Saghai Maroof, R. M. Biyashev, E. A. Grabau, P. Kwanyuen, J. W. Burton, and G. R. Buss. 2007. A modified colorimetric method for phytic acid analysis in soybean. Crop Science 47:1797-1803.
  25. Tucker, D. M., C. A. Griffey, S. Liu, and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2006.  Potential for effective marker-assisted selection of three quantitative trait loci conferring adult plant resistance to powdery mildew in elite wheat breeding populations. Plant Breeding 125:430-436. 
  26. Mammadov, J. A. Z. Liu, R. M. Biyashev, G. J. Muehlbauer and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2005.  Cloning, genetic and physical mapping of resistance gene analogs in barley (Hordeum vulgare). Plant Breeding 125:32-42. 
  27. Hayes, A. J., S. C. Jeong, M. A. Gore, Y. G. Yu, G. R. Buss, S. A. Tolin, and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 2004. Recombination within a Nucleotide-Binding-Site/Leucine-Rich_Repeat gene cluster produces new variants conditioning resistance to Soybean mosaic virus in soybeans. Genetics 166:493-503. 
  28. Maughan, P. J., M. A. Saghai Maroof, and G. R. Buss.  2000. Identification of quantitative trait loci controlling sucrose content in soybean (Glycine max).  Molecular Breeding 6:105-111. 
  29. Xiong, L. Z., C. G. Xu, M. A. Saghai Maroof, and Q. Zhang.  1999. Patterns of cytosine methylation in parents and F1 of an elite rice hybrid detected by a methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism technique. Molecular and General Genetics 261:439-446.  
  30. Yu, S. B., J. X. Li, C. G. Xu, Y. F. Tan, Y. J. Gao, X. H. Li, Q. Zhang and M. A. Saghai Maroof.   1997.  Importance of epistasis as the genetic basis of heterosis in an elite rice hybrid.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94:9226-9231. 
  31. Liu, Z. W., R. M. Biyashev, and M. A. Saghai Maroof.   1996. Development of simple sequence repeat DNA markers and their integration into a barley linkage map.  Theor. Appl. Genet. 93:869-876. 
  32. Yu, Y. G., G. R. Buss and M. A. Saghai Maroof. 1996. Isolation of a superfamily of candidate disease resistance genes in soybean based on a conserved nucleotide-binding site.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA.  93:11751-11756. 
  33. Saghai Maroof, M. A., R. M. Biyashev, G. Yang, Q. Zhang, and R. W. Allard. 1994. Extraordinarily polymorphic microsatellite DNA in barley: species diversity, chromosomal locations, and population dynamics.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 91:5466-5470. 
  34. Zhang, Q., B. Z. Shen, X. K. Dai, M. H. Mei, M. A. Saghai Maroof, and Z. B. Li.  1994. Using bulked extremes and recessive class to map genes for photoperiod sensitive genic male sterility in rice.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 91:8675-8679