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Nutritious crops: genomic approaches to improving the nutritional and commercial value of oilseed rape

Project Description

Oilseed rape is the third largest source of vegetable oil in the world. It is also a fascinating species in which to undertake genomic studies due to its polyploid ancestry.

The Bancroft research group has developed genomic resources and technologies to understand the genetic basis of crop characteristics, particularly in oilseed rape (e.g. Harper, et al. Associative Transcriptomics of traits in the polyploid crop species Brassica napus. Nature Biotechnology 30:798-802, 2012). Our methods are widely applicable across crops and the training we provide empowers our students to contribute to food security worldwide.

We hold genotyped genetic diversity panels for both oilseed rape (Havlickova, et al. Validation of an updated Associative Transcriptomics platform for the polyploid crop species Brassica napus by dissection of the genetic architecture of erucic acid and tocopherol isoform variation in seeds. Plant Journal 93:181-192, 2018) and mustard rape, along with a recently-developed genome re-sequenced radiation mutagenesis panel for oilseed rape. We can accommodate research students aiming to utilise these resources to address a range of compositional traits, such as content of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants in oil (important for nutritional value) and the content of glucosinolates in seeds and vegetative tissues (important for animal feed and plant defence against pests and diseases).

The most recent examples of publications by our PhD students involving rapeseed focused on oil composition of seeds (Kaur, et al. The impact of reducing fatty acid desaturation on the composition and thermal stability of rapeseed oil. Plant Biotechnology Journal. In press), glucosinolates in vegetative tissues (Kittipol, et al. Genetic architecture of glucosinolate variation in Brassica napus. Journal of Plant Physiology 240:152988, 2019) and the resistance of plants to falling over (lodging) (Miller, et al. Dissecting the complex regulation of lodging resistance in Brassica napus. Molecular Breeding 38:30, 2018).

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded project. Applicants need to have adequate funds to meet the costs of a self-funded research project including tuition fees and living expenses for the duration of the research programme. Please see information on tuition fee costs, living expenses and funding opportunities.


Applications are welcome for either for a 1-year MSc by Research or for a 3-year PhD.

How good is research at University of York in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.37

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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