Manipulation of chloroplast density to enhance photosynthesis and nutritional value of tomato.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Sch of Biological Sciences


The overall aim of this project is to manipulate chloroplast development and density to produce tomato plants with higher pigment content, enhanced photosynthetic performance, increased yield, and faster developmental performance (i.e. early harvest). We will also determine the role of plastid number in fruit organic compound sequestration, nutritional and postharvest quality, carbon partitioning and 'shelf-life'.

Chloroplasts are vital eukaryotic organelles that harbour essential metabolic pathways important to energy production.
Transgenic tobacco plants manipulated to have higher numbers of chloroplasts also had higher photosynthetic pigment content and exhibited more than 2-fold higher rates of photosynthesis, compared to wild-type suggesting that improvements in photosynthetic carbon fixation and pigment content may be achieved by altering chloroplast/plastid density.

The project has the following objectives:
Obj1 Use Agrobacterium-mediated transformation to produce a variety of transgenic tomato plants with altered combinations of enzymes and proteins identified as targets for the manipulation of chloroplast development, division and density in the photosynthetic tissue and fruit (chromoplast) of tomato.

Obj2 Identify plants with increased photosynthetic performance and evaluate selected lines under environmental conditions mirroring those expected from global climate change to identify plants with high resilience to environmental fluctuations.

Obj3 Identify changes in fruit quality and size, flavour/aroma and nutritional components.

The successful candidate will be based at NIAB EMR and work in a friendly atmosphere within the science teams with a spirit of helping colleagues. You will join a cohort of 38 PhD students on a site with 202 ha in the heart of Kent. This study would be supported by the growing facilities at NIAB EMR, which are being upgraded as part of the UKRI by an £18M Strength in Places Grant awarded to NIAB EMR in 2020. We can provide onsite accommodation for up to a year for new students and staff.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/T008768/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2028
2597259 Studentship BB/T008768/1 01/10/2021 30/09/2025 Erick Gomes Oliveira