The focus of the Arora lab is to explore the natural diversity of the Pisum (pea) species for environmental resilience.
The lab is focusing on pea because the demand for pea protein is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years, but that is at odds with pea’s highly volatile yields.
There are many factors causing this yield volatility, such as biotic and abiotic stresses and sub-par agronomic potential. Sanu’s group will work towards understanding the genetic basis underlying these stresses, with the objective of achieving yield stability.
They will start by looking for genetic sources of resistance to devastating diseases of pea (root rots, powdery and downy mildews) against which the current control strategies are not particularly effective.
Before starting her own group, Sanu was a Postdoctoral Scientist in the Dr Brande Wulff lab. While there, she developed a new method, dubbed AgRenSeq, to tap into the genetic diversity of crop landraces and wild relatives for disease resistance. This method combines association genetics with resistance gene enrichment sequencing on a genetically diverse panel.
Sanu demonstrated the efficiency of AgRenSeq by cloning four stem rust resistance genes from a diversity panel of Aegilops tauschii, the D genome progenitor of bread wheat, which she will continue within her new group.
Subsequently, this approach has been adapted to other crop diversity panels, including Watkins wheat landrace collection and now the John Innes Centre’s own Pisum collection.
Before joining the John Innes Centre, Sanu studied for her PhD at the Punjab Agricultural University in India. Her project explored the genetic diversity present in Ae. tauschii for agronomic and nutritional traits. It was during her PhD that Sanu first realised the enormous potential of the wild wheat relatives in wheat enhancement as well as the huge challenges in the way of tapping that potential.
Arora S., Steuernagel B., Gaurav K., Chandramohan S., Long Y., Matny O., Johnson R., Enk J., Periyannan S., Singh N., Asyraf Md Hatta M., Athiyannan N., Cheema J., Yu G., Kangara N., Ghosh S., Szabo L. J., Poland J., Bariana H., Jones J. D. G., Bentley A. R., Ayliffe M., Olson E., Xu S. S., Steffenson B. J., Lagudah E., Wulff B. B. H. (2019)Resistance gene cloning from a wild crop relative by sequence capture and association genetics.Nature Biotechnology (37)Publisher's version: 1087-0156
Arora S., Singh N., Kaur S., Bains N., Uauy C., Poland J., Chhuneja P. (2017)Genome-Wide Association Study of Grain Architecture in Wild Wheat Aegilops tauschiiFrontiers in Plant Science (-)Publisher's version: 1664-462X
Arora S., Cheema J., Poland J., Uauy C., Chhuneja P. (2019)Genome-Wide Association Mapping of Grain Micronutrients Concentration in Aegilops tauschii.Frontiers in plant science (10)Publisher's version: 1664-462X