Prof. Katherine Denby, CNAP, Biology Dept., York
Traditional crops historically provided affordable nutrition to millions of rural people but are typically absent from modern agriculture. Such crops are well-adapted to local agro-ecological conditions, many are nutrient-dense and they can play a vital role in food systems by enhancing livelihoods and climate-resilient/biodiverse agriculture. We are working to develop improved lines of one such crop, Amaranthus, for cultivation by smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this project you will combine bioinformatics and a RNAseq experiment to analyse 10 amaranth genomes comparing genes encoding key plant immunity proteins – nucleotide binding leucine-rich repeat proteins (NLRs). You will determine the number, type, location and expression of NLRs, and variation between amaranth lines. This will facilitate genetic approaches to enhancing disease resistance, an important consideration in this understudied crop. The project will involve interaction with both the host lab and Novogene, where you will be able to interact with the Novogene team to gain a broad understanding of this sequencing-based company. Students will be expected to present their findings orally at a research day in York in September 2023.