Research > Vegetable Breeding


A&M has been breeding onion cultivars for the last 45 years and have developed popular open pollinated cultivars (e.g. Texas Grano 1015Y, Texas Legend). Uvalde Center’s vegetable breeding program is conducting research and developing onion and watermelon cultivars suited for the Southern region of the U.S.

Breeding for Onions

Photo of Breeding for Onion

Short day onions are high value vegetable crops for the Southern region. Biotic stresses such as pink root disease, Stemphylium leaf blight, thrips, and Iris Yellow Spot Virus are major constraints in onion farming. The objectives of the project are to study genetics and to develop biotic tolerant short day sweet onion cultivars. The program in collaboration with public institutions (W3008 Multistate Research Project) are evaluating diverse Texas A&M onion germplasm to understand genetical mechanism of host resistance for diseases and insects. The program in conjunction with the Texas A&M Vegetable & Fruit Improvement Center are testing bulb quality and bulb storability in onions. We are also testing Texas A&M onion germplasm for doubled haploid generation. The project is utilizing high throughput phenotyping for trait selection in onion and plans to utilize genomic selection as a breeding tool to develop cultivars.

Breeding for Watermelons

Photo of Breeding Watermelon

Watermelon is an important vegetable crop in the U.S. Biotic stresses such as Fusarium wilt and anthracnose leaf blight are major diseases in watermelon growing regions. The objectives of the program are to understand genetics of host resistance and develop disease tolerant cultivars. The program is evaluating Texas A&M and USDA germplasm and creating genetic variability by making selected crossings. The project plans to utilize gene editing and genomic selection as a breeding tool to develop cultivars. The program is also testing to develop tetraploid germplasm.

Breeding for Organic Systems

There is a high demand for organic vegetable crops in Texas and nationally. Growers have limited options for onion cultivars as current cultivars are released for conventional farming systems. The objective of the project is to develop onion cultivars for organic system. Diverse Texas A&M short day onion germplasm are being evaluated in organic farming systems. The program will also evaluate different agronomic practices, so that growers can get a onion growing package (cultivar and agronomic practices).

Insect Vector Diseases in Vegetable Crops

This program is collaborating with other Texas A&M AgriLife Centers on insect vector disease research in tomato, pepper and melon plants. The objectives of the project are to identify the predominant insect biotype and species, determine the predominant insect-transmitted viruses and study population dynamics of insects and diseases. We are evaluating the germplasm of several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and melons, and monitoring insects and diseases on those crops.

Dr. Subas Malla

Assistant Professor of Vegetable Breeding

(830) 988-6139

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Team Members

  • Nathalia Figueroa-Silva, Research Associate
  • Filomena Hernandez, Program Aide
  • Steven Ramos – Non-affiliated student worker


  • Bhatta B.P., T. Patel, E. Correa, T.C. Wehner, K.M. Crosby, M.J. Thomson, and S. Malla§. 2022. Data on inheritance of race 2 anthracnose resistance in watermelon (Citrullus spp.) biparental mapping populations. Data in Brief 44:1-5.
  • Khanal, M., B.P. Bhatta, S. Timilsina, S. Ghimire, K. Cochran, and S. Malla§. 2022. Curtobacterium allii sp. nov., the actinobacteria species causing onion bulb disease. Antonie Leeuwenhoek. (Accepted).
  • Angira, B.§, Y. Zhang, Y. Zhang, C.F. Scheuring, L. Masor, J. Rothe, B.B. Singh, H.-B. Zhang, D.B. Hays, M. Zhang, M. Khanal, E. Correa, B.P. Bhatta, and S. Malla§. 2022. Genetic dissection of Iron Deficiency Chlorosis by QTL Analysis in Cowpea. Euphytica 218, 38.
  • Bhatta, B.P., T. Patel, E. Correa, T.C. Wehner, K.M. Crosby, M.J. Thomson, R. Metz, S. Wang, M. Brun, C.D. Johnson, and S. Malla§. 2022. Dissection of race 1 anthracnose resistance in a watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus) biparental mapping population. Euphytica (Accepted with revision).
  • Khanal, M., S. Timilsina, B.P. Bhatta, K. Bophela, T. Coutinho, K. Cochran, and S. Malla§. 2022. Pseudomonas uvaldensis sp. nov., a bacterial pathogen causing onion bulb rot, isolated from Texas, USA. IJSEM. 72:005311.
  • Correa, E., K. Crosby, and S. Malla§. 2021. Optimizing Seedling Screening Method for Anthracnose Resistance in Watermelon. Plant Health Prog. 22:536-543.
  • Bhatta, B.P. and S. Malla§. 2020. Improving Horticultural Crops via CRISPR/Cas9: Current Successes and Prospects. Plants. 9:1360.
  • Correa, E., S. Malla§, K. Crosby, and C. A. Avila. 2020. Evaluation of Genotypes Breeding for improved productivity in watermelon. Horticulturae. 6:67.
  • Carpenter, N.R., E. Wright, S. Malla§, L. Singh, D. Van Sanford, A. Clark, S. Harrison, J.P. Murphy, J. Costa, S. Chao, G.L. Brown‐Guedira, N. McMaster, D.G. Schmale III, C.A. Griffey, and N. Rawat§. 2020. Identification and validation of Fusarium head blight resistance QTL in the US soft red winter wheat cultivar ‘Jamestown’. Crop Sci. 60(6):2919-2930.
  • Griffey, C.§, S. Malla, W. Brooks, J. Seago, A. Christopher, W.E. Thomason, R.M. Pitman, R. Markham, M.E. Vaughn, D.W. Dunaway, M. Beahm, C.L. Barrack, E. Rucker, H. Behl, T. Hardiman, B. Beahm, P. Browning, D. Schmale III, N. McMaster, J.T. Custis, S. Gulick, S.B. Ashburn, N. Joneds Jr., B.-K. Baik, H. Bockelman, D. Marshall, M. Fountain, G. Brown-Guedira, C. Cowger, S. Cambron, J. Kolmer, Y. Jin, X. Chen, K. Garland-Campbell, and E. Sparry. 2020. Registration of ‘Hilliard’ Wheat. J. Plant Reg. 14(3):406-417.
  • Meier, N. A. §, S. Malla, J.C. Oakes, J.P. Murphy, B.-K. Baik, S. Chao and C.A. Griffey. 2020. Registration of Soft Red Winter Wheat VA11DH-P46xTrib-28, VA11DH-P46xTrib-99, and VA11DH-P46xTrib-103 Germplasm Lines with Exceptional Milling and Cookie Baking Performance. J. Plant Reg. 14(3):450-456.


  • Grant #1