Gabriel investigates the utilisation of UK pulse crops, specifically pea and faba bean, for the nutritional enhancement of human diets, within a Defra-funded scoping study.
Pulse crops are currently underutilised in agriculture, but are increasing in prominence among plant-based foods, due to their relatively high concentrations of protein. Pulses are also a rich source of resistant starch and important micronutrients.
Gabriel has investigated which nutrients are industry priorities for enhancement and explored how current genetic variation in pea and faba bean collections can be used to enhance the levels of these nutrients. This work has formed part of a report submitted to Defra and has also featured in Nutrition Bulletin and associated Spotlights publications.
Gabriel is researching seed quality traits, both visual and compositional, in pea. Natural and induced variants for the stay-green gene are being introgressed into a common cultivated background so that their effects can be determined under field conditions. Mutations affecting seed composition are being studied with reference to perturbations in seed protein, starch and galactinol-derived oligosaccharides.
His work also underpins collaborative research with NIAB, partners within the Defra-funded Pulse Crop Genetic Improvement Network. A diversity set of Pisum accessions have been multiplied and are being tested as novel sources of resistance to disease.