Elizabeth is a PhD student in the Crop Genetics department, supervised by Dr Simon Griffiths, working on her PhD; ‘Balancing The Genetics of Source to Sink to Increase Bread Wheat Productivity’.
Regarding ‘source’ genetics Elizabeth studies novel staygreen wheat lines, which show altered, and or delayed, senescence profiles, meaning these lines stay greener for longer post-flowering.
Underlying hypotheses behind the research are that the staygreen trait could extend grain full duration, and, or, plants remain able to photosynthesise for longer while remobilising resources, potentially increasing yield.
Previous studies indicate heading date, irrespective of senescence type, is often a key determinant of yield, which this project tries to unpick through coupling staygreen with altered phenology in terms of early heading date.
Additionally the staygreen trait has also been shown to convey stress tolerance under heat, drought, or low nitrogen environments, which are of increasing concern under climate change conditions.
Collaborating with KWS to conduct large scale multi-site, multi-environment trials over multiple years, alongside trials here at the John Innes Centre, the aim is to understand if staygreen would be beneficial trait to adopt in current and future wheat breeding.
Through combining phenotypic, physiological, and statistical analysis, bioinformatics and molecular biology, physiological Elizabeth aims to identify and characterise genes responsible for the trait.