The global human population is projected to reach ~9 billion person by 2050 which is expected to propel a significant increase in food demands.
Pulse crops are recognised for their high protein content as well as their significant role in sustainable crop production systems through their ability to fix nitrogen via rhizobial symbiosis.
However, for these crops to meet the growing demands for healthy plant-based foods, future pulse cultivars will need to combine good agronomic performance and improved nutritional quality traits. For instance, the concentration of desirable nutrients like proteins, sulphur-containing amino acids and micronutrients (iron and zinc) have be enhanced while eliminating or reducing concentration of some undesirable components including lectins, tannins, phytate, and raffinose.
Before joining John Innes Centre, Ahmed worked on developing common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) cultivars that combined good agronomic traits with superior cooking and canning quality.
In his PhD at University of Reading, he studied the protein composition of faba bean (Vica faba) seeds and identified genetic loci associated with crude protein content and the abundance of major seed storage proteins like legumin, vicilin and covicilin.
Ahmed’s current role in Dr Janneke Balk’s lab is focused on identifying genetic loci underlying the diversity for nutritional quality (amino acids, resistant starch, iron and zinc, phytic acid and raffinose) among pea germplasm. This information will contribute towards developing pea cultivars with better nutritional quality that can be used in developing heathy foods in UK and beyond.