Fitness in the field: Does leaf starch metabolism play a role in wheat crop performance? (HAZARD_Q19DTP)
- Research Area Agriculture and Food Security
- Partner The Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB)
Dr Brittany Hazard -
- Application Deadline 26/11/2018
Wheat products such as bread and pasta are global staple foods that people eat every day. These foods are a major source of starch, and starches resistant to digestion are an important component of dietary fibre capable of delivering many health benefits. Our research group at Quadram Institute Bioscience and the John Innes Centre in Norwich aims to improve the levels of resistant starch in wheat grains to develop healthier wheat varieties and foods for consumers.
In prior studies we developed wheat grains with substantial increases in resistant starch using mutations in starch branching enzyme II (sbeII) genes. However, preliminary data from field trials suggests there may be negative impacts of the mutations on plant performance in the field. This is important because any negative impacts on plant fitness may mean that consumers will have to pay higher prices for healthier products to compensate for yield losses experienced by growers.
To explain our preliminary observations, we hypothesize that sbeII mutations may affect starch metabolism in the leaves of the wheat plants leading to negative impacts on plant growth.
In this project, the student will utilize new wheat genomics resources including sequenced wheat TILLING mutants, and cutting-edge biochemical, physicochemical and molecular biology techniques to understand the role of sbeII in leaf starch metabolism and how this may impact plant fitness in the field.
The student will build a solid skill set in fundamental plant genetics and metabolic biology and applied trait development for crop breeding. The student will be supervised by a multidisciplinary team across the Norwich Research Park at both the Quadram Institute and the John Innes Centre.