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Crop Genetics and Biotechnology

A description of the research for the Section of Crop Genetics and Biotechnology

The research of the section is concentrated on genetic and molecular analyses of the major Danish crop plants – barley, wheat and ryegrass – with the objective of achieving a basic understanding of the mechanisms underlying growth and development, in particular synthesis, transport and deposition of nutrients in leaves and seeds as well as tolerance to abiotic and biotic stress. The knowledge obtained is utilized via conventional breeding techniques and genetic modification to develop prototypes with improved properties for the use as feed, food and biomass.


The group is located at Research Centre Flakkebjerg and has state-of-the art facilities for modern plant research comprising laboratories approved for working with genetically modified plants, Incubators, growth cabinets, semi-field facilities, greenhouses and experimental fields. In addition to general competencies in molecular genetics and molecular biology the groups has specific competencies in heterologous expression, laser capture microdissection, genetic transformation, genomic selection and handling of data from wide genome sequencing. 


The target groups are Danish and international research institutions and research networks, Danish agriculture, plant breeders, feed and food producers, the enzyme industry and other industries with an interest in innovation in plant and plant production research as well as the public authorities, decision makers and society in general. Since its establishment in 1998 the group has made several research- based contributions to the Danish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, in particular reviews and recommendations in the areas of genetic modification and co-existence between conventional, organic and genetically modified plants.

The group works at present within the following areas:

  • Further development of our knowledge base on the molecular mechanisms behind the metabolism of the cereal grain, in particular mobilization and storage of phosphate, amino acids, storage proteins, starch and minerals.
  • Extending our knowledge on the genome of the forage grasses and the utilization of this knowledge to improve seed set, heterosis, leaf yield and cell wall digestibility.
  • Abiotic and biotic stress with special reference to fungal resistance and climatic changes such as the effects of increasing CO2 levels and drought.
  • Analyses of protein oxidation in plants and the importance for the stress response in plants
  • Establishment of a research platform for quantitative and qualitative improvement of the vegetative parts of cereals and grasses for further use in biorefining including bioethanol production.
  • Further development and implementation of technologies in heterologous expression and genomics/functional genomics.
  • Further development of transformation techniques for barley and wheat with special reference to cisgenesis and genomic editing and homologous recombination via TALEN technology

Section coordinator

Henrik Brinch-Pedersen

Professor with Special Responsibilities

Torben Asp

Professor with Special Responsibilities