Sana Ullah Khan

Position: PhD student
Place of Birth: Pakistan
Language: English, Urdu, Pashto
Advisors: Dr Lee Hickey, Prof. Ian Godwin
Scholarship: RTP Scholarship




The human population is increasing and by 2050 there will be 9.5 billion people. The current rate of crop improvement is inadequate to meet this future challenge. Genome engineering is at the dawn of its golden age and gene editing technologies like CRISPR/Cas presents a promising tool for scientist to develop plant varieties with improved yield, resistance to disease and drought, and healthier food products. But gene editing techniques require specialised laboratories and facilities to tailor the crops. Also, for most crop species manipulation is limited to handful of genotypes that are compatible with plant regeneration processes. Speed breeding technology, developed at UQ provides a flexible tool to accelerate crop breeding by exposing the plants to artificial light. The rapid generation advance system can achieve up to six generations per year for major crops species like wheat, barley and chickpea. The aim of my project is to speed up the gene editing pipelines like CRISPR/Cas by integrating the technology with speed breeding to bypass the bottlenecks of in vitromanipulation of plant material. Our novel ‘ExpressEdit’ approach is anticipated to transform genome editing from a ‘biotechnology’ into a ‘breeding technology’, which will help integrate genome editing in large-scale crop improvement programs.



1.    To create the world’s first CRISPR-ready elite barley plants.
2.    Use barley as a model to develop a methodology for ‘lab-free’ genome editing that can be broadly applied across crop species.


Khan S.U., H.U. Rahman, M. Iqbal, G. Ullah, I. A. Khalil, M. Ali, I. U. Zaid and M. U. Rehman. Combining ability studies in maize (Zea mays L.) using populations diallel. International J. Basic & Appl. Sci. 2014; 14(1): 17-23.
Zaid IU, Hidayat ur R, Sajid K, Khan SU, Ghulam U, Monsif ur R, et al. Heterotic response of three-way cross maize hybrids for grain yield and yield components. Journal of Agricultural Science and Applications. 2014;3(1):24-9.

Ali, M. Raziuddin, I. H. Khalil, I. A. Khalil, A. Haq, R. Khan, Ghulamullah, M. U. Rehman and and S. U. Khan (2016). Genetics of seed quality attributes in Brassica napusL. Pure and Applied Biology, 5(4).

Zaid IU, Tang W, Liu E, Khan SU, Wang H, Mawuli EW, et al. Genome-Wide Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms in CMS and Restorer Lines Discovered by Genotyping Using Sequencing and Association with Marker-Combining Ability for 12 Yield-Related Traits in Oryza sativa L. subsp. Japonica. Frontiers in Plant Science. 2017;8(143).

Ullah Zaid I, Tang W, He J, Ullah Khan S, Hong D. Association analysis uncovers the genetic basis of general combining ability of 11 yield-related traits in parents of hybrid rice. AoB PLANTS. 2018;11(1)