Dr Isaac Njaci

Postdoctoral Scientist

Grass pea (Lathyrus sativus) which is grown in different parts of the world, is the most climate and environmentally resilient legume.

It is remarkably tolerant to both drought and flooding and is grown for food, feed and fodder and as a cheap source of protein during periods food shortage.

Despite its great value for food and nutritional security, grass pea produce a neurotoxic beta-L-ODAP in it’s leaves and seeds that can potentially cause a debilitating disease known as neurolathyrism on excessive consumption.

Using high-throughput sequencing and reverse genetics, a recent study has identified the putative genes involved in the synthesis of beta-L-ODAP toxin in grass pea.

The focus of Isaac’s work is to remove the toxin through a gene editing approach targeting the beta-L-ODAP synthesis genes.

Isaac will be involved in the establishment of a transformation system for grass pea genome editing. Successful removal of the toxin will enhance grass pea usage and improve the livelihoods of the farming communities in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.