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K-State Today

February 21, 2017



Division of Biology Seminar Feb. 24

By Division of Biology

DellaPenna

Dean DellaPenna, Michigan State University, will present "Integrating biochemical genomics and quantitative genetics to balance the nutritional content of plants" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in 221 Ackert Hall. 

The lecture is derived from agricultural crops and the foundation of the global food supply but their edible tissues (primarily seed) contain inadequate levels of many essential micronutrients and are major contributors to global micronutrient malnutrition. While most essential nutrient pathways in plants have now been elucidated, attempts to predictively engineer them to achieve a desired end remains a hit and (mostly) miss endeavor. A better understanding of the genetic and molecular basis underpinning natural variation in essential nutrients in seeds is needed to achieve desired phenotypes and (nutritional) outcomes. Toward this end, DellaPenna has been projecting the knowledge base developed for carotenoid and tocopherol synthesis in Arabidopsis into maize and then utilizing QTL and genome wide association approaches in both systems to understand the genetic and molecular basis of natural variation for micronutrients in their seed. On average, ~10 QTL impact a given seed trait but only 2-3 of these QTL intervals contain a biosynthetic gene for synthesis of the compound, ~75 percent of the QTL identify novel genes affecting the traits! With three-fourths of the information needed missing, it is easy to understand why metabolic engineering efforts for micronutrients have too often met with limited success. He will summarize the progress to date filling these gaps in the understanding of genes and mechanisms regulating natural variation in seed micronutrient content.

If you would like to visit with DellaPenna, contact Kathrin Schrick at kschrick@k-state.edu. DellaPenna's visit is co-sponsored by the Division of Biology and the ADVANCE Distinguished Lecture Series.