Genetic control of sulphur metabolism in Broccoli: How to make better broccoli

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office

Abstract

Broccoli uniquely makes a sulphur-containing compound called glucoraphanin which accumulates in the florets. When you eat broccoli, glucoraphanin is converted to another compound called sulforaphane which is thought to underlie the probable anticancer activity of broccoli. Glucoraphanin is made through a complex biochemical pathway involving many genes and enzymes. However, most of these are regulated by a single transcription factor called Myb28. This project is about understanding how different alleles of Myb28 can determine how much glucoraphanin is made, and what the consequences this may have for how broccoli can defend itself from pests and diseases. The project will also help us to understand how to manufacture broccoli plants that make either very large amounts of glucoraphanin or very small amounts which can be used in cancer studies underway in Norwich. It will also address long standing questions in plant biology about the metabolic costs of the manufacture of secondary metabolites and its consequences for plant fitness. The project provides many opportunities for developing skills in plant genomics and molecular genetics and analytical biochemistry. It will utilise the very latest genomic technologies and bioinformatics for selecting plants with specific naturally occurring and synthetic Myb28 alleles, and advanced mass spectrometry techniques for chemical analysis of tissues. The project is jointly supervised by Professor Richard Mithen, of the Institute of Food Research and Professor Lars Ostergaard of the John Innes Centre, and the student will spend about equal time in both institutes where he/she will be part of active and well-funded research teams.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1653460 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2019 Mikhaela Neequaye
 
Description The findings from this research have been used to apply for the UK's first official CRISPR field trial of a crop since the decision of the EU to consider CRISPR-Cas9 gene-edited crops as GM. Details of the application made, which also details the CRISPR lines generated and their use are detailed at the following link https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/genetically-modified-organisms-john-innes-centre-19r5201
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Brassica Meeting Saint-Melo 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact I presented a poster about my research at an international meeting of Brassica researchers in Saint-Melo.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://colloque.inra.fr/brassica2018/content/download/3856/39661/version/1/file/Brassica2018_abstra...
 
Description Cut Sci Cafe 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I gave a talk, alongside other researchers at the John Innes Centre, to the general public in a cafe format about my work and engaged in debate on attitudes towards genetically modified crops, modern practices in agriculture and scientific reporting to the public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://twitter.com/rebeccavosborne/status/1045434199912665088
 
Description Fantastic Futures Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The Fantastic Futures Event was an open day held by a local school in Cromer, in which A-Level students engaged directly with researchers in order to gain insight into their work and potential future career outcomes. I had a stall on behalf of the (then) Institute of Food Research alongside Dr Brittany Hazard where we discussed our work and careers in nutritional crop sciences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Food For Future Conference - Cologne 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact I presented my work at an international conference of researchers, policy makers and industry members at a conference in Cologne based around the future of food and approaches to developing future crops to face global challenges such as climate change, food shortages and malnutrition.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.portal.uni-koeln.de/sites/uni/Projekte/food-security/Dokumente/Programme_1st_Cologne_Con...
 
Description Glucosinolates Conference Berlin 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented an academic poster on my research at the Glucsinolates meeting in Berlin for researchers in my field in order to stimulate discussion around the work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.glucosinolates2017.org/
 
Description Knowledge Exchange Trip 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I presented my work for a group of researchers at Trinity College Dublin as part of the (then) IFR Student Knowledge Exchange Trip. This short was followed up by discussion with students from the research groups.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Norwich Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I engaged with members of the general public during an all day event held at Norwich Cathedral alongside members of my research group, discussing my research. Members of the public seemed very keen to engage in discussion about my work on crop genetics and had questions about GM, breeding etc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://norwichsciencefestival.co.uk/
 
Description PubhD 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I organised and took part in an (then) IFR student special of PubhD in which three PhD students (including myself) have 10 minute talks about their research and its impact to members of the general public in an informal pub setting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://thecellarhouse.co.uk/pubhd/
 
Description Scientist Question Time (TSN) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A group of students from four schools in the local area came to the John Innes Centre where I took part in 'Scientist Question Time'. I was part of a panel of five scientists that were questioned by students in the audience about our work, its impact and about our careers. Students gained an important insight into the everyday lives of scientists and how to pursue science as a career path.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description UK China Brassica Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I gave an oral presentation to a group of senior Brassica researchers from the John Innes Centre and delegates visiting from China in the UK China Brassica Symposium at the John Innes Centre. This lead to great discussion and insights into my research from questioning and follow up discussions with attendees.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description UKBRC Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I gave an oral presentation of my work a the UK Brassica Research Community (UK-BRC) annual meeting, in which Brassica researchers from universities and institutes from across the UK gather together to discuss ideas and collaborate.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description UKBRC Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact I presented my research for members of my field from research institutes throughout the UK as part of the annual UKBRC Meeting. On both occasions this was an oral presentation with time for questions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL http://blog.garnetcommunity.org.uk/ukbrc-2017-annual-meeting/
 
Description Women of the Future Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 200 girls from 17 Schools from across Norfolk and Suffolk attended the second Women of the Future conference at the John Innes Centre, where I displayed a poster and some broccoli and engaged with young women about my research and career. Many students were unaware of the possible careers available in plant science and crop research and how best to set themselves up for this kind of career and I feel I gave some helpful insight to them going forward.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2016/11/-women-future-2016/#
 
Description Women of the Future Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact I gave a talk at the John Innes Centre Women of the Future Event, designed to encourage young women to engage with STEMM careers. High school girls from a number of local schools attended the day long event in which I gave a brief presentation, did demonstrations of my work and engaged in a panel discussion afterwards with other female STEMM professionals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/blog/the-story-of-women-of-the-future-2018/
 
Description Youth STEMM Awards Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The Youth STEMM Awards Conference is an event held for high school students around the region to engage with active early career researchers in order to gain a better understanding of their work and potential career prospects. This entailed discussions with groups of students using props and posters to discuss our research and the impact it can have.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.jic.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2016/01/-youth-stemm-mid-year/