Crop seed quality refinement with beneficial microbes

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Name: Biological Sciences


Royal Holloway University of London's (RHUL) Seed Science and Technology Group lead by Prof Gerhard Leubner is focused on improving crop seed quality and seedling performance by innovative seed refinement technologies. We have longstanding experience in seed technologies including priming with biologicals, coatings and pellets, and beneficial microbes. Our group has a solid track record in integrating multidisciplinary science and engineering approaches, and in collaborating with seed industry in applied projects. The broad expertise for this represented by Prof Leubner and the group's biomaterial engineer Dr Tina Steinbrecher reaches from molecular seed physiology of abiotic stresses (heat, cold, drought) and seed-microbe interaction to seed biomechanical engineering and material science. The project into the application and delivery of beneficial microbes to agriculture and horticulture via the refined crop seeds requires a multidisciplinary approach. Crop seeds, without or with coatings or pellets, are stored in their dry state in a company warehouses and its most important to prevent or delay seed aging during storage as it compromises seed quality by reducing seed vigour and eventually even seed viability. Seed-applied beneficial microbes are exposed to the same storage conditions and must be able to withstand and survive the prolonged dry storage. This survival depends on the natural state of a particular beneficial microbe, as well as its microenvironment inside or attached to the natural (seed coat, embryo, etc.) or artificial (pellet mass, film coating, etc.) structures of a particular crop seed. Adjusting the seed and microbe application technologies to achieve the highest product resilience and quality requires understanding of the underpinning mechanisms of the beneficial interaction. The PhD project into innovative refinement technologies for seed application of beneficial microbes will benefit from the collaboration between RHUL's world-leading Seed Science and Technology Group and Croda's leading internationally leading seed enhancement company Incotec. Prof Leubner's and Dr Steinbrecher's Seed Biology Course attracts excellent students to register for this teaching module which runs in autumn term of their final year. The multidisciplinary RHUL-Incotec supervisory team offers superb training and exposure to a dynamic academic and industrial environment. This includes a well equipped laboratory, a group with diverse expertise, an organised postgraduate teaching and training programme at RHUL and excellent placement possibility at the Incotec industrial partner site. Prof Leubner and Dr Steinbrecher have an established track record in successful collaborative doctoral training together with industry partners relevant to food security and agritechnologies.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/T508913/1 01/01/2020 31/12/2023
2307164 Studentship BB/T508913/1 01/01/2020 13/05/2024 Bernice Mitchener