Staple crop seeds, which are a major source of amino acids (AA) for both food and feed, are deficient in several essential amino acids. Attempts to use classical breeding or transgenic approaches to increase their levels often result in poor seed quality and germination vigor. This might be due to the fact that, despite having well characterized biochemical pathways, little is known about the AA network developmental constraints, interactions, response to environmental change, and the overall contribution to plant fitness and adaptation.
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My primary research aims are to uncover the metabolic and genetic mechanisms driving the AA network’s response to multiple cellular demands and to environmental changes as well as to understand the evolutionary forces and developmental constraints that shaped them. To this end, my lab is focused on dissection of the genetic architecture that underlies the natural variation of seed AA related traits across multiple species under various environmental conditions and to evaluate their evolutionary context.
SO NOW WHAT?
To achieve these goals, we employ GWAS and classical linkage mapping combined with molecular and genetic approaches, functional genomics, and bioinformatics. My lab’s long-term goals are to be able to model the genetic and metabolic response of the AA network to different abiotic stresses.
This information will provide the basis for genetic improvement through both transgenic approaches and classical breeding programs to ensure sustainable high quality seed.