Crop Quality (Theme 3)

We seek to understand the factors that determine the nutritional value of crops, and use this information to support studies of human nutrition and the breeding of nutritionally-improved crops.

Important areas of research include:

1 – Control of accumulation of iron and zinc in cereal and pea seeds

This research facilitates development of varieties with enhanced micronutrient contents

2 – Variation in the structure of starch in wheat seeds

This research underpins studies of the importance of “resistant” starch for human health

3 – Genetic variation in the protein composition of pea seeds

This research underpins studies of the nutritional value and digestibility of peas

4 – Synthesis and accumulation of purple pigments (anthocyanins) in fruit and vegetables

This research enables studies of the health-promoting properties of anthocyanins

In each research area, we are producing plants that are essentially identical apart from the amounts or types of the product under study. The food and nutritional properties of the grains, seeds or fruits of these plants will be studied by scientists in the Quadram Institute, Norwich and elsewhere, resulting in unambiguous new information about the importance of particular products in the human diet. These plants also form the basis of breeding programmes for crops with improved nutritional value.