My research interests focus on vegetable crop genetic improvement, applying trait genetics and plant breeding to address the growing needs of sustainable intensification for food security and improved nutrition. I have a particular interest in the use of landrace and crop wild relatives as sources of genetic variation that can be incorporated into pre-breeding material suitable for uptake by industry.
As a research group our theme is plant stress resilience (biotic and abiotic), searching for favourable variation that confers tolerance or resistance. We also look at the segregation of key quality characteristics in the crops we study:
• post-harvest senescence (primarily in brassicas) as an indicator of post-harvest performance
• insect resistance in brassicas (Plutella xylostella)
• tolerance to growth in saline conditions (brassicas)
• water-logging (brassicas)
• resistance to downy mildews (Diplotaxis tenuifolia)
• morphological characters and quality
• metabolite variation and flavour - metabolites associated with brewing quality (barley)
• metabolites associated with brassica flavour
We want to understand the mechanistic basis behind the control of the characteristics studied. Genetic markers linked to these regions, or preferably within the genes themselves, are used to select progeny from controlled crosses. Individuals that have desirable characteristics are selected and advanced through our breeding schemes. This work is enhanced greatly by the use of high-throughput sequencing technologies.
I am part of the N8 AgriFood Resilience Programme. The majority of my research falls under Theme I: Sustainable Food Production; however, my work on crop senescence/ post-harvest performance, and crop quality and nutritional content, span Theme II: Resilient Supply Chains, and Theme III: Improved Consumption and health.
If you would like any information, please contact me.