Mitch McGrath, Ph.D.

Mitch McGrath

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Adjunct USDA Professor - Developing enhanced sugar beet germplasm and discovering genes of agronomic importance for sustainable crop production.
Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences



Ph.D., Genetics, University of California, Davis. 1989.
B.S., Plant and Soil Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 1979.

Overview of current program:

Current research goals are to develop a genomic framework and biological toolkit for sugar beet, which include assembling and annotating the beet genome sequence, specifically that of the germplasm 'C869' which is the common seed parent of our Recombinant Inbred (RI) populations, as well as releasing these RI populations with high-density molecular maps.

Websites of Interest:


  1. Galewski, P., McGrath, J.M. Genetic diversity among cultivated beets (Beta vulgaris) assessed via population-based whole genome sequences. BMC Genomics 21:189. 2020.
  2. Heidari, B.. Moreno, M. B. M., Lucini .L., Bolton, M., McGrath, J. M., Broccanello, C., Alberti, I., Sella, L., Concheri, G., Squartini, A., Cagnin, M., Hassani, M., Romano, A., and Stevanato, P. Mass spectrometry-based metabolomic discrimination of Cercospora leaf spot resistant and susceptible sugar beet germplasms  Euphytica 215:25. 2019.
  3. Funk, A., Galewski, P., McGrath, J. M. Nucleotide-binding resistance gene signatures in sugar beet, insights from a new reference genome. The Plant Journal 95:659-671. 2018.
  4. Broccanello, C., McGrath, J. M., Panella, L., Richardson, K., Funk, A., Chiodi, C., Biscarini, F., Barone, V., Baglieri, A., Squartini, A., Concheri, G., and Stevanato, P. A SNP mutation affects rhizomania-virus content of sugar beets grown on resistance-breaking soils. Euphytica 214:14. 2018.
  5. Broccanello, C., Chiodi, C., Funk, A., McGrath, J. M., Panella, L., and Stevanato, P. Comparison of three PCR-based assays for SNP genotyping in plants. Plant Methods 14:28. 2018.
  6. Hanson, L. De Lucchi C., Stevanato, P. McGrath, M., Panella L., Sella, L., De Biaggi, M. and Concheri G. Root rot symptoms in sugar beet lines caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. betae. Eur J Plant Pathol, 150:589–593. 2018.
  7. De Lucchi, C., Stevanato, P., Hanson, L. E., McGrath, M., Panella, L., De Biaggi, M., Broccanello, C., Bertaggia, M., Sella, L., and Concheri, G. Molecular markers for improving control of soil-borne pathogen Fusarium oxysporum in sugar beet. Euphytica 213:71. 2017.
  8. Atoum, Y., M. J. Afridi, J. M. McGrath, and L. E. Hanson. On developing and enhancing plant-level disease rating systems in real fields. J. Pattern Recognition 53: 287-299. 2016.
  9. McGrath, J. M., Hanson, L. E., and Panella, L. W.  Registration of SR98 sugarbeet germplasm with high levels of resistance to Rhizoctonia seedling damping-off and crown and root rot diseases. J. Plant Registrations 9: 227-231. 2015.
  10. Pan, L., Lu, R., Zhu, Q., McGrath, J. M., and Tu, K. Measurement of moisture, soluble solids, and sucrose content and mechanical properties in sugar beet using portable visible and near-infrared spectroscopy. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 102:42-50. 2015.
  11. Panella, L., Hanson L. E., McGrath, J. M., Fenwick, A. L., Stevanato, P., Frese, L., and Lewellen, R. T. Registration of ‘FC305’ multigerm sugarbeet germplasm selected from a cross to a crop wild relative. J. Plant Registrations 9: 115-120. 2015. 2015.
  12. Pan, L., Zhu, Q., Lu, R., and McGrath, J.M. Determination of sucrose content in sugar beet by portable visible and near-infrared spectroscopy. Food Chemistry 167: 264-271. 2015.
  13. Hatlestad, G. J., Akhavan, N. A. Sunnadeniya, R. M., Elam, L., Cargyle, S., Hembd, A., Gonzalez, A., McGrath, J. M., and Lloyd, A. M.  The beet Y locus is a co-opted anthocyanin MYB that regulates betalain pathway structural genes. Nature Genetics 47, 92–96. 2014.
  14. Afridi, M. J., Liu, X., and McGrath, J. M.  An automated system for plant-level disease rating in real fields. 22nd International Conference on Pattern Recognition. Number 1550. 6 pp. 2014.
  15. Panella, L. W., Lewellen, R. T., and McGrath, J. M.  Registration of 'FC1028', 'FC1038' and, 'FC1036' multigerm sugarbeet germplasm with Cercospora leaf spot and multiple disease resistances. J. Plant Registrations 7: 229-237. 2013.
  16. Stevanato, P., Trebbi, D., Biancardi, E., Cacco, G., McGrath, J. M., and Saccomani, M. Evaluation of genetic diversity and root traits of sea beet accessions of the Adriatic Sea coast. Euphytica. 189: 135-146. 2013.
  17. Hatlestad, G. J., Sunnadeniya, R. M., Akhavan, N. A., Gonzalez, A., Goldman, I. L., McGrath, J. M., and Lloyd, A. M. The beet R locus encodes a new cytochrome P450 required for red betalain production. Nature Genetics 44:816–820. 2012.
  18. Hanson, L. E., and McGrath J. M. Rhizoctonia seedling disease on sugar beet. International Sugar Journal 113:584-589. 2011.
  19. McGrath, J.M. Registration of EL54 and EL55 sugarbeet germplasms. Journal of Plant Registrations 5:1–6. 2011.
  20. McGrath, J.M. Assisted breeding in sugar beets. Sugar Tech 12:187-193. 2011.
  21. Trebbi, D., and McGrath, J. M. Functional differentiation of the sugar beet root system as indicator of developmental phase change. Physiologia Plantarum 135:84–97. 2009.
  22. McGrath, J. M., El-Awady, A., El-Khishin, D., Naegele, R. P., Carr, K. M., and de los Reyes, B. Sugar beet germination: Phenotypic selection and molecular profiling to identify genes involved in abiotic stress response. Acta Horticulturae 782:35-48. 2008.
  23. Nagendran, S., Hammerschmidt, R., and McGrath, J. M. Identification of sugar beet germplasm EL51 as a source of resistance to post-emergence Rhizoctonia damping-off. European Journal of Plant Pathology 123:461-471. 2008.
  24. Kuykendall, L. D., Murphy, T. S., Shao, J. and McGrath, J. M. Nucleotide sequence analyses of a sugarbeet genomic NPR1-class disease resistance gene. Journal of Sugar Beet Research 44:35-49. 2007.
  25. McGrath, J. M., Trebbi, D., Fenwick, A. Panella, L., Schulz, B., Laurent, V., Barnes, S. and Murray, S. C. An open-source first-generation molecular genetic map from a sugarbeet x table beet cross and its extension to physical mapping. Crop Science 47:S-27-S-44. 2007.
  26. McGrath, J. M. Registration of EL53 sugarbeet germplasm with smooth-root and moderate resistance to Rhizoctonia crown and root rot. Crop Science 46:2334-2335. 2006.
  27. Haagenson, D. M., Klotz, K. L. and McGrath, J. M. Sugarbeet sucrose synthase genes differ in structure and organ-specific and differential expression. Journal of Plant Physiology 163:102-106. 2006.
  28. McGrath, J. M. Plant breeding and the promise of genomics. Applied Biotechnology, Food Science and Policy 1:207-211. 2003.