Professor Nicholas Harberd
Plant genetics, mineral nutrient uptake/assimilation, and food security.
Global food demand is predicted to double by 2050 with a 50% increase in world population. Achieving this without compromising environmental integrity and public healthy posses an even greater challenge. The high-yielding “Green Revolution” cereal varieties introduced in the 20th century were lately found to suffer from low soil nutrient use efficiency (NUE), and are therefore reliant on environmentally unsustainable application of fertilizers. Recent preliminary studies identified potential master-regulators that are involved in the regulation of plant mineral nutrient uptake/assimilation. I am interested in taking molecular and genetic approaches to understand how plant growth and development mediated by these master-regulators are coordinated with plant metabolism. At the practical level, I wish to contribute to the development of new crop varieties maintaining high yields but with a decreased dependency on high-level fertilizer application, exploiting revolutionary “genome-editing” techniques.