"The overall goal of this project is to understand phosphorus (P) and zinc (Zn) interactions in the mineral nutrition of Brassica oleracea, a species that has been bred into a wide range of crops such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower. To achieve this, we will develop a comprehensive understanding of key mechanisms and coordination of P-Zn cross-talk that allows high P-use-efficiency (PUE) plus high Zn accumulation and thereby provide the basis for breeding programmes combining improved PUE and increased shoot Zn concentrations. Selected B. oleracea genotypes with extreme PUE and shoot Zn concentrations identified recently by the host lab and collaborators will be studied stepwise using a multidisciplinary approach including state of the art methods. Firstly, the genotypes will be characterised phenotypically, specifically for yield, root architecture traits and bulk mineral element concentrations. Secondly, root exudates will be characterised biochemically initially using Fourier Transformation Infrared for general overview followed by Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer for detailed analysis. Thirdly, tissue-specific localization of mineral elements, specifically P and Zn, will be determined using multielemental and quantitative imaging technique micro-Proton-Induced X-Ray Emission. Fourthly, gene expression profiles will be studied using the Brassica Exon Array. The anticipated results will be used to promote sustainable agriculture, through a reduction in fertiliser inputs and to improve dietary mineral intakes by increasing the mineral content of edible crops. Breeding varieties with greater PUE, without having a significant negative impact on shoot Zn content, is one strategy to simultaneously reduce the use of P fertilizers and combat dietary Zn deficiencies. Through the execution of the research, the skills acquired, and the collaborative network developed, the candidate will gain means essential to follow an independent scientific career."
Fields of science
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call