As one of the most important plant products in our daily lives, starch is all around us; it is the major calorific component of our staple foods, such as wheat, rice and potatoes.
Starch plays a crucial role in plants as the major form of carbohydrate storage.
Most plants use starch reserves to generate metabolic energy in the dark when photosynthesis is not possible. Growth of plants during the night, or of seedlings underground before they emerge from the soil, is often fuelled by starch.
Starch is made within the plastids of plant cells as insoluble semi-crystalline granules with complex structure and morphology. These granules are composed solely of glucose molecules that are linked together in polymers.
Two distinct polymers occur within starch – amylopectin and amylose.
We are interested in the molecular processes that facilitate the formation of starch granules in the plastid.
We study these processes in model plants like Arabidopsis and Brachypodium, as well as major crops like wheat and potato.
The identification of key components involved in starch synthesis will ultimately lead to novel approaches to improve the cooking, processing and/or nutritional quality of our starch crops.
Current research includes;
- Understanding the mechanism of starch granule initiation
- Identify genes that underpin diversity in starch granule morphology and composition
- Develop novel approaches to improve the quality of starch crops