Alexander Gaponenko
Doctor of Biology
Professor of Genetics, agrobiotechnology Department

Genetic Engineering implies not only developing new forms of plants but continuous awareness-raising activities with society which mostly believes in GMO being detrimental.


Graduated from the Biological Faculty, Rostov State University (Rostov-on-Don), Specialty ‘Biology’. Degree in Biology and Genetics, Teaching Biology and Chemistry.

1970 - 1981

Head of the Group of the Plant Cell Culture of Rostov State University.


Defended his PhD thesis in Biology, Specialty ‘Genetics’ entitled Chemical Mutagenesis Induced in Barley by N-Nitroso-N-Methyl Urea. 

1978 - 1979

Visiting Professor of the University of Oregon, Eugene, USA.

1981 - 1989

Head of the Plant Cell Culture Team, Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.

1989 - 2007

Head of the Cell Engineering Laboratory, Russian Academy of Sciences Centre for Bioengineering, Moscow.


Visiting Researcher of the ETH Zurich (Swiss Institute of Technology) (German: Eldgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich), Zurich, Switzerland.


Defended his Doctor’s thesis in Genetics entitled Genetic Processes in Cereal Cells Cultured in Vitro. 

1993 - 1994

Visiting Researcher of the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute, Wooster Campus (Ohio State ATI, Wooster Campus), Ohio, USA. 

1996 - 1998

Vice Director of Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences Centre for Bioengineering, Moscow. 

1997 - 1998

Visiting Researcher of Novartis (Toulouse, France).

2007 – present

Chief Research Fellow of the Russian Academy of Sciences Koltsov Institute of Developmental Biology, Moscow. 

2018 – present

Professor of the Agrarian and Biotechnological Department of the RUDN University Agrarian and Technological Institute.

Participation in the development of the governmental programmmes:

  • Supervisor of the Sub-Panel on Biotechnology and Immunology in the long-term Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Programme in Science and Technologies; 2000-2010.
  • Member of the working group on developing BIO 2020 Programme of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.
  • Member of the working group of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, developing the Genetic Engineering Road Map.
  • Member of the Panel on High Technologies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
  • Member of the Panel on Biotechnologies in Crop Research of the Research and Development Board of the Ministry of Agriculture.
  • Member of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Working Group on Science and Technologies.


Alexander K. Gaponenko delivers lectures to the students enrolled in the RUDN University further vocational education programmes in the following disciplines:

  • Theoretical Basics of Developing Stress-Tolerant Plants;
  • Physical and Chemical Foundations of Biotechnology;
  • GMO Safety and Methods of GMO Control;
  • Transgenic Plant Technology.


  1. - Alexander K. Gaponenko developed the methods for cultivating somatic cells of wheat, barley and sunflower in vitro, and the most important food crops – wheat (1984) and sunflower (1990) - were grown from a plant cell for the first time in the USSR, which allowed to start developing methods for their genetic transformation.
  2. - The method for genetic transformation of sugar beet was developed and patented under the supervision of Professor Gaponenko in the Laboratory of Plant Cell Engineering of the Russian Academy of Sciences Centre for Bioengineering in 2006 and the first limited field tests of transgenic forms of sugar beet were conducted in the Russian Federation. 

Participation in inventions (author of the following patents)

  1. Gaponenko А.K., Mishutkina Ya.V., Timoshenko А. А., Shulga О. А., Spechenkova N.А. Patent of Invention of the Russian Federation №2646108 “Method for Producing Transgenic Wheat Plants Using Bioballistics”. 07 December 2016.
  2. Gaponenko А.K., Ohrimenko G.N., Sozinov А.А.. Inventor’s Certificate of the USSR №1458386. “Method for Cultivating Wheat Tissue”. 15 October 1988.
  3. Gaponenko А.K., Voronina I.P. Inventor’s Certificate of the USSR № 720596. “Method of Regeneration of Sunflower Plants from Somatic Cells Cultivated in vitro”. Invention priority of 19.03.1990.
  4. Gaponenko А.K. Patent of Invention of the Russian Federation №2179187. “Method for Producing Transgenic Sunflower Plants”. 10 February 2002.
  5. Gaponenko А.K. Patent of Invention of the Russian Federation №2193066. “Ballistic Method for Producing Transgenic Sunflower Plants (Helianthus annuus L.)”. 20 October 2001.
  6. Gaponenko А.K., Ahmed Abu Kamel. Patent of Invention of the Russian Federation №2180165. ”Method for Micro-clonal Reproduction of Gladiolus”. 10 March 2002.
  7. Gaponenko А.K. Patent of Invention of the Russian Federation № 2277586. “Method for Producing Wheat Resistant to Pest Corn Bug (Eurygaster integryceps Puton) using Genetic Engineering Methods”. 10 June 2006.
  8. Gaponenko А.K., Mishutkina Ya.V., Skryabin K.G. Patent of Invention of the Russian Federation №. 2278162. “Method for Producing Genetically Modified Sugar Beet Plants using Agrobacterium Tumefaciens”. 20 June 2006.

Scientific interests

  • Cell and genetic (genetic and engineering) bases of developmental biology and plant biotechnology.
  • Research into regulation of in vitro morphogenesis of the most important food crops of the Russian Federation – wheat, sugar beet and sunflower.
  • Development of wheat and sunflower varieties resistant to unfavourable factors of the environment using genetic engineering methods for agriculture of the Russian Federation.
  • Development of the new forms of rubber plants with high production, high quality natural rubber, and improved agrotechnical properties.
Many plants do produce various defense proteins like proteinase inhibitors (PIs) to protect them against various pests. PIs function as pseudosubstrates of digestive proteinase, which inhibits proteolysis in pests and leads to amino acid deficiency-based mortality. This work reports the structural interaction studies of serine proteinase of Heterodera glycines (SPHG) with Vigna mungo proteinase inhibitor (VMPI). 3D protein structure modeling, validation of SPHG and VMPI, and their putative protein-protein binding sites were predicted. Protein-protein docking followed by molecular dynamic simulation was performed to find the reliable confirmation of SPHG-VMPI complex. Trajectory analysis of each successive conformation concludes better interaction of first loop in comparison with second loop. Lysine residues of first loop were actively participating in complex formation. Overall, this study discloses the structural aspects and interaction mechanisms of VMPI with SPHG, and it would be helpful in the development of pest-resistant genetically modified crops.
Authors of the analytical report «World Agriculture Towards 2030/2050» made conclusion that growing global demand for food cannot be satisfied if the agricultural production in the world does not increase by 60% for the next 40 years (Alexandratos and Bruinsma, 2012). This could be achieved only by increase the plants productivity, not at the expense of expansion farms land, because to 2050 area of world lands will grow on 5%. World population growth and reduction of the world area planted with wheat has alerted governments of G20, which adopted “The International Research Initiative for Wheat Improvement”. Wheat biotechnology rapidly evolves throughout the world. In 2009 three major wheat exporting countries have signed the declaration to speed up the commercialization of GM-wheat. In this article we evaluated the genetic engineering achievements, and their usage for increasing profitability of wheat.
The nematodes like root-knot and cyst are plant-parasitic pest found in horticultural and agricultural crops. They do damages in the roots of plants as a result losses million tons of production. High cost of nematicides and environment safety concern has necessitated finding of some alternative methods. Under Integrated Pest Management (IPM) such problems are solving significantly by means of target gene inhibition, agrobacterium mediated transformation etc. One of this strategy use Plant Proteinase Inhibitors (PIs) gene which are used to control the proteolysis mechanism of Pest by inhibiting gut Serine Proteinase (SP). Present work investigates the utility of computer aided methods to study the mechanism of Protein-Protein interactions and thereby inhibition of Serine Proteinase by PIs. Hence 3D models of Serine Proteinase as well as Serine Proteinase Inhibitors (SPIs) generated using homology modeling. Validations of constructed models have been done by PROCHECK, VERIFY3D, ERRAT and PROSA. Prediction of Protein interacting surface patches and site specific protein docking was performed by using ZDOCK Server. Backbone refinement of output protein complexes was executed in Fiber Dock server. Interaction study between SP and SPIs complexes shows their comparative inhibition efficacy, measured in terms of number of hydrogen bonds, Van dar wall attraction and docking energy. This work reported that Vigna marina and Phaseolus oligospermus are having better inhibition efficiency in comparison to other inhibitors.
The induction, regeneration, and biolistic sensitivities of different genotypes of common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) have been determined in order to develop an efficient system for transformation of Russian cultivars of spring wheat. Short-term (two days) cold treatment (4°C) has been demonstrated to distinctly increase the frequency of morphogenetic callus induction. The optimal phytohormonal composition of the nutrient medium ensuring an in vitro regeneration rate of the common wheat cultivar Lada as high as 90% has been determined. The optimal temporal parameters of genetic transformation of wheat plants (10–14 days of culturing after initiation of a morphogenetic callus) have been determined for two transformation methods: biolistic without precipitated DNA and transformation with the plasmid psGFP-BAR. Analysis of the transient expression of the gfp gene has confirmed that 14 days of culturing is the optimal duration.
Published by Arab Society for Plant Protection 2007, pp. 381-389. Sources of resistance to the Sunn bug (Eurygaster integriceps Puton) have not been found in the Triticum genera. It may not be possible to develop wheat resistance to Sunn Pest through common plant breeding procedures. Recent achievements of genetic engineering have shown that usage of transgenic insecticide crop varieties are the environmentally safest way of controlling herbivorous pests. This approach allows the use of a wide range of genes, isolated from different plant species and microorganisms. These genes have to possess a few properties: their products must be harmless to mammals do not affect bread making properties and be toxic to the different development stages of the pest. The creation of a transgenic plant requires availability of three basic components: insecticide genes, an efficient genetic transformation system and the ability to achieve a high level of transgenic expression in specific tissues. We are planning to use four groups of genes: 1) genes encoding the plant protease inhibitors and -amylase inhibitors; 2) plant lectins genes [garlic (Allium sativum L.) leaf lectin (ASAL) and snow drop (Galanthus nivalis agglutinin) GNA gene lectin]; 3) genes from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis - Bt-genes, which encode insecticide proteins, known as delta-endotoxins; 4) maybe synthetic genes. For this we have used a psGFPBAR vector specially designed for biolistic transformation of cereal. Choice of the selection mode of the transgenic wheat plants, was made on the basis of the bar gene action. The established wheat transformation protocols for Russian wheat varieties has an efficiency of ~ 2-3% and allow us to start engineering wheat resistant to the main domestic wheat pest - E. integriceps.