Brassica Rapeseed and Vegtable Optimisation

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Brassica Rapeseed and Vegtable Optimisation

A fundamental challenge in modern crop science is the exploitation of big genomic data by linking variation in genotype to phenotype. Flowering time pathways are now recognised as master regulators of plant development, and as signal-processing machineries allowing plants to adapt to their environment. These genes affect all major reproductive processes from the timing of flowering, through inflorescence architecture, flower, fruit and seed development and finally seed vigour. The goal of the sLoLa BRAVO is to combine genomic tools, predictive biology and high throughput phenotyping to efficiently link genotype to phenotype across multiple reproductive traits sharing regulatory components from flowering time pathways in Brassica napus and B. oleracea. We hypothesise that investigating each transition as part of an integrated project could target breeding programmes towards loci offering the opportunity for a win-win: that is to positively manipulate more than one trait, and to predict inevitable trade-offs between traits that maximise yield in different environments. High-throughput phenotyping will be used for association genetics approaches in both B. napus and B. oleracea to identify candidate genes linked to trait variation in variety panels. In parallel, construction and validation of in silico gene networks will be combined with large-scale EcoTILLING to make phenotypic predictions for each of ~200 Brassica varieties based on the ability of alleles to disrupt network architecture and critical outputs for each trait. Candidate genes controlling each trait and their place in the network will be validated in Brassica by exploiting our TILLING and transformation platforms together with our novel CRISPR pipeline at the John Innes Centre. Close integration of our research programme with industrial stakeholders will see germplasm with commercial potential taken into field trials, providing a seamless innovation pathway from laboratory to field.

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