BBSRC Embrapa - Developing mitochondrial mediated resilience to abiotic stress during plant reproduction.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Biosciences


This project will bring together groups from the UK and Brazil who are working on different aspects of heat and drought stress, pollen development and mitochondrial function in wheat to address the molecular genetic and physiological events occurring during reproductive heat and drought stress. This will enable development of germplasm with enhanced resilience to environmental stress during flowering.

University of Nottingham(UoN)
-Prof ZA Wilson: Reproductive development and male fertility in wheat. Expertise in the molecular regulation of pollen development and translation of gene networks from models, to crops. This has identified conserved transcription factors, which are being explored as tools to control crop fertility for hybrid breeding. Investigation of flowering adaptations in wheat associated with flowering time, stamen structure and anther dehiscence. The impact of temperature stress of pollen development, with the target of identifying traits for resilience during temperature stress.

-Prof I King & Dr J King: Ancestral Introgression Programme to transfer genetic variation into wheat from its distant relatives, by transferring the entire genome of a range of species, e.g. Secale cereale, Aegilops speltoides, Ambylopyrum muticum, Triticum urartu, Thinopyrum bessarabicum, Th. elongatum, Th. intermedium, Th. ponticum, T. timopheevii, into wheat in small overlapping chromosome segments. While still at a preliminary stage derivatives carrying introgressions from this programme are already under study for a wide range of traits, e.g. tolerance to abiotic stress, chemical composition, morphological traits.

-Assoc Prof J Foulkes: Resource-use efficiency in wheat: Expertise in wheat physiology- focusing on ear fertility and resource-use efficiency. Includes (i) physiological and genetic basis of ear fertility; thresholds for assimilate partitioning to the ear and alternative sinks. Novel ear-fertility genes related to increased efficiency of tillering, spikelet primordia number and floret fertility (ii) physiological and genetic basis of N-use efficiency and (iii) water-use efficiency.

Brazilian Researchers - Universidade Estadual de Campinas
Expertise in Molecular Genetic manipulation of Mitochondria.

Paulo Arruda - (PI) Molecular biology, genetics, genomics,
Natalia Verza - (post-doc) Molecular biology, metabolic engeneering
Pedro Barreto - (pos-doc) Molecular Biology, genomics, mitochondrial metabolism
Juliana Yassitepe - (Embrapa researcher) Genetics
Geraldo Cançado - (Embrapa researcher) Transgenic approaches.

Biosciences, UoN has excellent research facilities, including purpose built molecular labs, imaging facilities with state-of-the art Micro-CT Imaging Facility, Controlled Environment facilities; the research environment is conducive to cutting-edge research, in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment. ZAW is part of the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology (CPIB), a major international centre to develop dynamic and multiscale models of plant development, involving data capture on dynamic hormone fluxes; cell & organ growth; gene expression, protein & metabolite profiles and tissue mechanics. CPIB will provide added support for data analysis, modeling and provide a platform for data dissemination.

Technical Summary


Planned Impact

This project will develop resources and capability to understand how plant reproduction is impacted by heat and drought stress. It will address the role of mitochondria in stress resistance during plant male reproduction, and will develop tools and resources to generate wheat with resilience to stress during reproduction. This will help ensure that wheat yields are maintained under changing climatic conditions and potentially expand the regions where wheat is cultivated. This proposal is ODA compliant and addresses key issues associated with food security and poverty. The aim of the programme is to ensure reproductive resilience in crops under adverse climate conditions, thereby maintaining crop yields under variable environmental conditions. These effects will be of greatest benefit to those on low incomes and food insecure groups. The expertise of researchers in the UK and Brazil will be combined to conduct internationally excellent research to address this critical issue for food security.


10 25 50
Description Preliminary data supporting increased resilience of tobacco plants to abiotic stress.
Exploitation Route Full proposal submitted to EMBRAP-BBSRC Wheat Call. Successful FAPESP Fellowship application for secondment of Dr Barretto to UK for 6 months. FAPESP large grant secured by Prof Paulo Arruda.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description FAPESP Fellowship - Dr Pedro Barretto
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) 
Sector Public
Country Brazil
Start 01/2018 
End 07/2018
Description Collaborations Unicamp 
Organisation State University of Campinas
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collaborative research work.
Collaborator Contribution Collaborative research work.
Impact None to date- manuscript in prep
Start Year 2016