Istvan Rajcan

Istvan Rajcan
Graduate Coordinator



519-824-4120 x53564


B.Sc. (Agr.) University of Novi Sad;
Ph.D. University of Guelph


Crop Science Building


317 CRSC
Soybean Breeding & Genetics 
Dr. Rajcan is involved in breeding soybeans to develop new high-yielding, high quality and disease resistant cultivars for the short- and medium-season soybean growing areas of Canada. Most varieties 

Soybean in field ; Soybean flower

developed in this program are rated within the range of 2400 to 2900 crop heat units (CHU), or relative maturity groups 000 to 1. Our cultivars are grown primarily in Ontario but also in Quebec, southern Manitoba, and some European countries. 
Studies of native and exotic genetic variation for the traits of interest, including the diversity from the Centre of Origin of soybean, China, are intertwined throughout Dr. Rajcan’s research program. 
In support of the breeding program, research is conducted in three main focal areas of interest: (1) soybean seed quality traits in relation to developing value-added products for niche markets (output traits) and, (2) the genetics of soybean disease resistance, (3) using genomic tools in soybean breeding.
Soybean Seed Quality
Seed compounds such as protein and isoflavones have been shown to have significant effects on reducing the incidence and severity of such serious health conditions as heart disease, osteoporosis, prostate and breast cancer, and others. With the help of molecular markers, we have been involved in studying the genetic basis underlying accumulation of isoflavones and other nutraceutical compounds in soybean seeds such as tocopherols. Our goal is to manipulate soybean seed composition for various functional (or healthy) food applications using natural and induced genetic variation, within the non-GM food grade soybean germplasm. Since seed quality traits tend to be quantitative in nature, we are using the quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping approach to identify genomic regions associated with such traits.
Soybean Disease Resistance
Soybean production is affected by several pests and diseases that may cause significant reduction in seed yield and, thereby, profits to the producer. One of the most effective ways of combating plant diseases is through identification and incorporation of disease resistance genes into adapted soybean varieties. We are working collaboratively with plant pathologists to identify new sources of resistance genes in the cultivated soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr., as well as in its wild progenitor, Glycine soja Siebold & Zucc. The diseases studied include: (1) Sclerotinia stem rot (white mould), caused by Sclerotinium sclerotiorum; (2) Sudden Death Syndrome, caused by Fusarium virguliforme and, (3) the most damaging one, soybean cyst nematode (SCN) caused by Heterodera glycines. By identifying both the quantitative and qualitative genes associated with resistance or field tolerance to these diseases in Ontario, we hope to contribute to their control resulting in a more profitable and stable soybean production. As with seed quality traits, molecular markers are used to facilitate the discovery and utilization of novel disease resistance genes.
Genomics Research
In our research, we use the modern molecular genetics tools including Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS), genomic selection and parent prediction, gene expression, marker assisted selection and others to achieve our goals. 
For information regarding the Ontario soybean variety trials please visit the Ontario Oil & Protein Seed Crop Committee (OSACC) at the soybean page of the website:


MBG*4160 Plant Breeding
PLNT*6100 Advanced Plant Breeding I
PLNT*6340 Plant Breeding

Relevant Links:

Selected Publications:

Istaitieh, M., Yoosefzadeh Najafabadi, M., Edwards, M., Todd, J., Van Acker, R., and I. Rajcan.2023. Genetic Study for Seed Germination and Shattering in Euphorbia lagascae in Response to Different Seed Treatments. In revision. Vol.10, Issue 7, 15 April 2024, e27975. is external)

Yoosefzadeh Najafabadi, M., Heidari, A. and Rajcan, I. 2023. AllInOne Pre-processing: A comprehensive preprocessing framework in plant field phenotyping. SoftwareX, Volume 23, 2023. is external)

Yoosefzadeh-Najafabadi, M., Singh, K.D., Pourreza, A., Sandhu, K.S., Adak, A., Murray, S.C., Eskandari, M. and I. Rajcan. 2023. Remote and Proximal Sensing: How Far Has It Come to Help Plant Breeders? In press. Advances in Agronomy. is external)

Yoosefzadeh Najafabadi, M.; Hesami, M.; Rajcan, I. 2023. Unveiling the Mysteries of Non-Mendelian Heredity in Plant Breeding. Plants 2023, 12, 1956. is external)

Rajsic, P., Gray, R., Weersink, A., and I. Rajcan. 2023. Are There Adequate Incentives for Research and Innovation in the Plant Breeding Supply Chain? IntechOpen, Agricultural Value Chains - Some Selected Issues, Editor John. Stanton. DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.110347

Ficht, A., Konkin, D., Cram, D., Sidebottom, C. Tan, Y. Pozniak, C. and I. Rajcan. 2023. Genomic selection for agronomic traits in a winter wheat breeding program. Theor. Appl. Gen. (2023) 136:38. is external)

Yoosefzadeh-Najafabadi, M. and I. Rajcan. 2023. Six decades of soybean breeding in Ontario, Canada: a tradition of innovation. Can. J. of Plant Sc., 103(4):333-352. is external)

Buerstmayr, H., Dreccer, M.F., Miladinović, M., Qiu, L., Rajcan, I., Reif, J., Varshney, R.K., and Vollmann, J. 2022. Plant breeding for increased sustainability: challenges, opportunities and progress. Theor. Appl. Genetics 135:3679–3683. is external)

Boyle, T., Najafabadi,M. Y., & Rajcan, I. (2023). Comparative assessment of early season soybean cultivars in organic and conventional production system for morphological and agronomic traits. Crop Science,63,227–247. is external)  

Gebre, M.G., Rajcan, I. and Earl, H.J. 2022. Genetic variation for effects of drought stress on yield formation traits among commercial soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] cultivars adapted to Ontario, Canada. Front. Plant Sci. 13: 1020944.doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.1020944

Hong, H., Yoosefzadeh Najafabadi, M. Torkamaneh, D., and Rajcan, I. 2022. Identification of quantitative trait loci associated with seed quality traits between Canadian and Ukrainian mega-environments using genome-wide association study. Accepted for publication in Theor. Appl. Genet. 135(7): 2515-2530.doi:10.1007/s00122-022-04134-8.

Priyanatha, C, and I. Rajcan. 2022. Phenotypic evaluation of Canadian x Chinese germplasm in a diversity panel for seed yield and seed quality traits. Can. J.  Plant Sc. 102: 1032–1039.

Ficht, A., Bruce, R., Torkamaneh, D., Grainger, C.M, Eskandari, M., and I. Rajcan. 2022. Genetic analysis of sucrose concentration in soybean seeds using a historical soybean genomic panel. Theor Appl Genet 135: 1375–1383. is external)

Yoosefzadeh-Najafabadi, M., Eskandari, M., Torabi, S., Torkamaneh, D.; Tulpan, D., Rajcan, I. 2022. Machine-Learning-Based Genome-Wide Association Studies for Uncovering QTL Underlying Soybean Yield and Its Components. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 202223, 5538. is external)

Belzile F, Jean M, Torkamaneh D, Tardivel A, Lemay M-A, Boudhrioua C, Arsenault-Labrecque G, Dussault-Benoit C, Lebreton A, de Ronne M, Tremblay V, Labbé C, O’Donoughue L, St-Amour V-TB, Copley T, Fortier E, Ste-Croix DT, Mimee B, Cober E, Rajcan I, Warkentin T, Gagnon É, Legay S, Auclair J and Bélanger R. 2022. The SoyaGen Project: Putting Genomics to Work for Soybean Breeders. Front. Plant Sci. 13:887553. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.887553

Khatri, P., Wally, O., Rajcan, I and S. Dhaubhadel. 2022. Comprehensive Analysis of Cytochrome P450 Monooxygenases Reveals Insight into Their Role in Partial Resistance Against Phytophthora sojae in Soybean. Front. Plant Sci. 13:862314.doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.862314

Priyanatha C, Torkamaneh D and Rajcan I. 2022. Genome-Wide Association Study of Soybean Germplasm Derived From Canadian × Chinese Crosses to Mine for Novel Alleles to Improve Seed Yield and Seed Quality Traits. Front. Plant Sci. 13:866300.doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.866300

Nitrogen Fixation in Soybean Is Subject to Drift or Selection Over 100 Years of Soybean Breeding. Front. Agron. 3:725813. doi: 10.3389/fagro.2021.725813

Isaac ME, Nimmo V, Gaudin ACM, Leptin A, Schmidt JE, Kallenbach CM, Martin A, Entz M, Carkner M, Rajcan I, Boyle TD and Lu X. 2021. Crop Domestication, Root Trait Syndromes, and Soil Nutrient Acquisition in Organic Agroecosystems: A Systematic Review. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 5:716480. doi:10.3389/fsufs.2021.716480  

Bruce, R.W., Rajcan, I., and J. Sulik. 2021. Classification of soybean pubescence from multispectral aerial imagery. Published online on August 4, 2021. Plant Phenomics: is external

Kumar, V., Vats, S., Kumawat, S., Bisht, A., Bhatt, V., Shivaraj, S.M., Padalkar, G.G., Goyal, V., Zargar, S., Gupta, S., Kumawat, G., Chandra, S., Chalam, V.C., Ratnaparkhe, M.B., Gill, B.S., Jean, M., Patil, G.B., Vuong, T., Rajcan, I., Deshmukh, R., Belzile, F., Sharma, T.R., Nguyen, H.T., and H. Sonah.2021. Omics advances and integrative approaches for the simultaneous improvement of seed oil and protein content in soybean (Glycine max L.). Critical Rev. Plant Sci. Published online August 10, 2021. is external)

Hemingway, J, Schnebly, SR, and I. Rajcan. 2021. Accuracy of genomic prediction for seed oil concentration in high-oleic soybean populations using a low-density marker panel. Crop Science 61:4012–4021. is external)

Jean, M., Cober, E., O’Donoughue, L., Rajcan, I. and F. Belzile. 2021. Improvement of key agronomical traits in soybean through genomic prediction of superior crosses. Crop Sci 61:3908–3918. is external)

Bruce, R.W., Torkamaneh, D., Grainger, C.M., Belzile, F., Eskandari, M. and I. Rajcan. 2020. Haplotype diversity underlying quantitative traits in Canadian soybean breeding Germplasm. Theor. Appl. Genetics 133:1967–1976.

Bruce, R.W., Rajcan, I. and J. Sulik. 2020. Plot extraction from aerial imagery:  a precision agriculture approach. Plant Phenome, Vol. 1(2). Published online on March 9, 2020. is external).

Bilyeu, K., Škrabišová, M., Allen, D., Rajcan, I., Palmquist, D.E., Gillen, A., Mian, R., and H. Jo. 2018. The interaction of the soybean seed high oleic acid oil trait with other fatty acid modifications. J. Am. Oil Chem. Soc. 95: 39–49.

MacDonell, E.C., and I. Rajcan. 2018. Identification of Quantitative Trait Loci Associated with Soyasaponin I Concentration in Soybean Seed. Accepted with revisions. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 131:2157–2165.

Shaw, E.J. and I. Rajcan. (2017). Molecular Mapping of Soybean Seed Tocopherols in the cross OAC Bayfield x OAC Shire. Plant Breeding. 136: 83-93.

McClure, K.A., K.M. Gardner, P.M.A. Toivonen, C.R. Hampson, J. Song, C.F. Forney, J. DeLong, I. Rajcan and S. Myles. (2016). QTL Analysis of Soft Scald in Two Apple Populations. Horticulture Research (Nature). 3: 16043. DOI:10.1038/hortres.2016.43(link is external)

Hemingway, J., M. Eskandari and I. Rajcan. (2015). Genetic and Environmental Effects on Fatty Acid Composition in Soybeans with Potential Use in Automotive Industry. Crop Science. 51: 1-11.

McNaughton, A.J.M., B.J. Shelp and I. Rajcan. (2015). Impact of temperature on the expression of Kennedy Pathway genes in developing soybean seeds. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 95: 87-101.

Sonah, H., L. O’Donoughue, E. Cober, I. Rajcan and F. Belzile. (2014). Identification of Loci Governing Eight Agronomic Traits using a GBS-GWAS Approach and Validation by QTL Mapping in Soybean. Plant Biotechnology Journal. 2: 211-21.DOI: 10.1111/pbi.12249(link is external).

Gillman, J.D., A. Tetlow, K. Hagely, J.G. Boersma, A. Cardinal, I. Rajcan and K. Bilyeu. (2014). Identification of the molecular genetic basis of the low palmitic acid seed oil trait in soybean mutant line RG3 and association analysis of molecular markers with elevated seed stearic acid and reduced seed palmitic acid. Molecular Breeding. 34: 447-455

Lee, R.W.H., I.T. Malchev, I. Rajcan and L.S. Kott. (2014). Identification of putative quantitative trait loci associated with a flavonoid compound related to resistance to cabbage seedpod weevil (Ceutorhynchus obstrictus) in a canola genotype derived from an interspecific cross, Sinapis alba x Brassica napusTheoretical and Applied Genetics. 127: 419-428.

Grainger, C.M. and I. Rajcan. (2014). Characterization of the Genetic Changes in a Multi-Generational Pedigree of an Elite Canadian Soybean Cultivar. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 127: 211-229.

Eskandari, M., E.R. Cober and I. Rajcan. (2013). Using the Candidate Gene Approach for Detecting Genes Underlying Seed Oil Concentration and Yield in Soybean. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 126: 1839-1850.

Eskandari, M., E.R. Cober and I. Rajcan. (2013). Genetic control of soybean seed oil: I. QTL and genes associated with seed oil concentration in RIL populations derived from crossing moderately high oil parents. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 126: 483-495.

Rossi, M.E., J.H. Orf, L.J. Liu, Z. Dong and I. Rajcan. (2013). Soybean Adaptation to North American vs. Asian Mega-environments as revealed by two Canadian x Chinese populations: I. Yield QTL. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 126: 1809-1823.

Boersma J.G., G.R. Ablett, C. Grainger, J.D. Gillman, K.D. Bilyeu and I. Rajcan. (2012). New mutations in a delta-9-stearoyl-ACP desaturase gene associated with enhanced stearic acid levels in soybean seed. Crop Science. 52: 1736–1742.

Palomeque, L., L.J. Liu, W. Li, B. Hedges, E.R. Cober and I. Rajcan. (2009). QTL in mega-environments: I. Universal and specific seed yield QTL detected in a population derived from a cross of high-yielding adapted x high-yielding exotic soybean lines. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 119: 417-427.

Winter, S.M.J., T. Anderson, T. Welacky and I. Rajcan. (2007). QTL associated with horizontal resistance to soybean cyst nematode in Glycine soja PI 464925B. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. 114: 461-472.

Primomo, V.S., D.E. Falk, G.R. Ablett, J.W. Tanner and I. Rajcan. (2002). Genotype-Environment Interactions, Stability and Agronomic Performance of Soybeans with Altered Fatty Acid Profiles. Crop Science. 42: 31-36.

Yan, W. and I. Rajcan. (2002). Biplot Evaluation of Test Locations and Trait Relations for Breeding Superior Soybean Cultivars in Ontario. Crop Science. 42: 11-20.