The Department of Plant Genetics was founded in 1975 (in 2011 re-organized to group) and was headed by Dr. Laimutė Balčiūnienė.2013 head of the group is Dr. L. Vaitkūnienė. The main research areas include mutagenesis, genetic instability, immunogenetics, polymorphism of plants, in vitro mutants, and genetic collections.
Research on barley mutants is carried out at Vilnius University. In Lithuania a collection of induced and natural mutants is being maintained and studied only at the Department of Plant Genetics of the Botanical Garden and the Department of Botany and Genetics of Vilnius University. The unique collection of induced barley mutants and revertants consist of about 300 accessions. It includes several genetically unstable loci: be (branched ear), tw (tweaky spike), and others. Among the latter the most perspective for plant morphogenetics and immunogenetics appear to be homeotic tw type mutants with lodicules converted ectopically to stamens and/or pistils. Collection of barley also includes genetic stocks, cultivars and mutants with marker genes which determine high resistance to fungi infection or high lysine content. Over 15 generations of them are sowed under the local conditions of Vilnius. Therefore, they might be considered as new, partially adapted local accessions. Clear evidence of this is a new variant of the gene Hooded in that part of collection.
Spontaneous mutants – motley plants – are collected. Today collection consists of 15 families, 21 genera and 26 species of woody plants, as well as herbaceous plants (26 families, 39 genera and 46 species). In the collection there are 34 new induced field bean mutants.