Breeding for growth and development

The group focuses on investigating the genetic regulation of phenotypic diversity. The two main crop species that we work on are Brassica oleracea and B. rapa on the one hand, and potato at the other hand. In Brassica a main team is to understand the enormous phenotypic diversity, with in B. oleracea cauliflowers, cabbages, kohlrabi’s, Brussels sprouts and kale and in B. rapa a similar diversity in crops. The potato sequence was released in 2011, and opens possibilities for further trait discoveries. This recently led to the cloning of the earliness gene. Research focusses on tuberization and responses to stress.

Crops: potato, B. rapa, B. oleracea.

Brassica research

To investigate this, we develop core collections and biparental populations from crosses between different morphotypes for (association) mapping and resequence inbred lines and landraces to generate SNPS and detect marks of domestication. A key issue is whether similar genes/genomic regions define the diverse morphotypes (turnips/kohlrabi and Chinese cabbage/ cabbage) in B. oleracea and B. rapa respectively. Key traits for investigation are flowering time and leaf development, which are strictly related to diverse morphotypes, seed quality and phytonutriens. For the latter, the focus on glucosinolates and study the genetic variation in degradation kinetics during food processing in collaboration with Food Scientists.

Potato research

Potato tuberisation and the moment it occurs are very important in determining the final size distribution, number of tubers and total yield. Following on from the identification of an important regulator of tuberisation controlling potato life cycle published in Nature in 2013 and also additional research into the important role of hormones in this process. The research focus is on the interaction between the regulation of flowering and tuber formation in potato and the effects of environmental stress on potato tuberisation.

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Recent publications