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Improving plant establishment in Bambara groundnut using CRISPR/Cas9

Principal Supervisor: Professor George Bassel

Secondary Supervisor(s): Professor Miriam Gifford

University of Registration: University of Warwick

BBSRC Research Themes:

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Deadline: 4 January, 2024


Project Outline

The Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc.), an underused African legume, has the potential to contribute to better food and nutrition security. It also offers solutions for maintaining environmental sustainability and ensuring fair access to affordable food, while increasing the crop diversity humans rely upon.

A major issue limiting the production of Bambara is uneven seed germination. Seeds retain residual dormancy such that they do not germinate uniformly or at all. This presents a formidable obstacle towards the cultivation of this crop, and realizing the full food security potential it holds. The lack of reliability in crop establishment limits the adoption of this nutritious species by farmers.

This project will develop and implement strategies to improve the germination properties of Bambara groundnut. This will be achieved through a combination of gene expression analyses using next-generation sequencing and CRISPR/Cas9. Using a candidate gene approach, the expression of key genes will be modulated using CRISPR as guided by the gene expression analysis. In this way, new varieties of Bambara can be created which have an improved germination profile, which can both leader to a greater adoption of the crop combined with greater yields.

This will contribute towards wider global food security and the diversification of agriculture through the consumption of underutilized crops.

Techniques

Gene expression analysis, tissue culture, gene editing using CRISPR and physiological analyses of seed germination.