Plant oil, starch, and protein are central to human food security and the development of a bio-based society. Our major research questions focus on the genetic factors determining the quality and quantity as well as the channelling of fixed carbon to these different storage compounds.
We conduct research and development of oil and starch crops with tailormade qualities for use as a raw material mainly in the chemical industry, for instance in the production of lubricants, plastics, and paints. Much of our research is applied, but we also perform basic research using molecular biology and biochemistry finding novel enzymes and investigating enzyme properties of importance for lipid and starch biosynthesis.
We work with a wide variety of breeding techniques to achieve the desired target properties in different crops, from traditional crossbreeding to the newest methods in gene technology such as site-directed mutagenesis with CRISPR/Cas9. Molecular tools are used to dissect trait variation, as well as to isolate, characterise, and validate candidate genes for transformation purposes. For instance, genome editing has been successfully implemented in potato, producing new starch qualities for improved usability in food and technical products as well as a low-GI potato.
A global shift from animal-based to plant-based protein is needed, and to this end faba bean is explored as a protein crop for food applications and some of our research goes into increasing the quality of protein from side streams of oilseed rape and potato processing.
Many of our research projects are within these fields:
- Basic research on lipid and starch biosynthesis
- Genome editing by directed mutagenesis, plant transformation, and use of tissue cultures
- Facilitation of the shift from animal-based to a plant-based protein
- Domestication of Lepidium campestre, a novel oil crop
- Investigating of the role of susceptibility/resistance factors in common crops
- Plant production of hemoglobin (and myoglobin) and benign pest control agents