The department’s research priorities are focused on understanding the ways that plants function with the aim of improving crop productivity and quality.
The department benefits from a unique combination of knowledge, expertise, facilities and resources. The multidisciplinary teams have expertise in molecular biology, bioinformatics, biochemistry, modelling and plant and crop physiology.
Areas of particular interest include the efficient use of resources, especially nutrients, crop quality in wheat and oilseeds, and resilience to stress. Specific strengths are pathway discovery and metabolic engineering, high throughput field phenotyping, image data extraction, grain composition analysis and biochemistry, resource partitioning (metabolic and structural) and responses to heat. Underpinning this research is analytical expertise in seed composition including lipidomics, metabolomics, natural product chemistry and biological imaging, as well as genomics, genetics and conventional breeding.
The department mainly contributes to Rothamsted’s strategic Science Portfolio in Superior Crops and Securing Productivity. It also supports two Institute Strategic Programme Grants, Designing Future Wheat and Tailoring Plant Metabolism.
Resources include: Plant transformation and genome editing; GM field trial facility; Lipidomics platform; Large scale field trials; Field Scanalyzer and drones for field phenotyping.
CROP PRODUCTIVITY AND QUALITY
Our research explores crop, and particularly wheat, yield and quality (protein, functionality, fibre, micronutrients) by exploiting genetic diversity and its underpinning mechanisms
LIPID METABOLIC ENGINEERING AND SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY
We study predictive bioengineering of lipids for health and industry using oilseed and microalgal chasses and carry out fundamental studies on spatiotemporal control of metabolism
OILSEED METABOLISM AND DEVELOPMENT
Our research exploits knowledge of metabolism, signalling and development to underpin improvement of oilseed crops
PLANT TRANSFORMATION AND GENOME EDITING
Our service of crop genetic transformation supports gene discovery and novel crop development, and provides cutting-edge gene editing technologies
RESILIENCE AND DEVELOPMENT
We investigate the mechanisms that underpin the resilience of wheat performance in relation to abiotic stress, impacts on growth, and development and the central role of genetic and metabolic signalling and control