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Professor Julian Hibberd


Brief Summary

The aim is to significantly improve the photosynthetic efficiency of an orphan crop that is widely grown across East, South and West Africa as well as parts of Asia. Gynandropsis gynandra is a leafy vegetable that has not been subjected to significant improvements. There is therefore an exciting opportunity to use resources that we have recently generated (including a reference genome, a diversity panel, and high-throughput phenotyping) to dramatically improve quality of this crop.

The project will be focussed on enhancing photosynthetic performance through physiological analysis of existing populations, such that recent advances in phenotyping can be combined with our ability to map traits for pre-breeding. G. gynandra uses C4 photosynthesis, and so through focus on traits associated with this pathway you will also have an opportunity to provide new insight into the molecular basis of this complex trait. The specific aim is to understand how photosynthetic efficiency and water use efficiency in this species relates to differences in vein density that we have already documented. We are working in collaboration with Prof Enoch Achigan-Dako in Benin to ensure that improvements that we make are relevant to farmers.