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Eva Vincze

Eva Vincze

Professor Emeritus

Research project:

Nutritional value of cereals: a functional genomics approach to understand the control and regulation of amino acid biosynthesis in barley

General introduction

The aim of our studies is to obtain an insight into amino acid metabolism in the developing barley grain at the molecular level and thereby provide a foundation for plant breeding towards improved nutritional quality.

Project 1: Improving the baking quality of barley; barley bread as a novel functional food

Barley grain is one of the richest sources of fibre (soluble and insoluble) and is an excellent source of beta-glucan, which is involved in regulation of plasma lipids, regulation of glucose and insulin metabolism, lowering cholesterol level. Its alkalinity is balancing excess acidity in the digestive tract and furthermore barley contains minerals (Fe, Se, Ca, Mg and K), vitamins (B, E), flavonoids, phenolic acids and anthocyanins. Overall, barley could be a good alternative to other common grains in our diet – the question is how can it be a staple food? The aim of our project is to improve the bread making properties of the barley dough by finding cultivars with more favourable protein composition (hordein preparation, SDS-PAGE electrophoresis; NIT analysis, AA determination by UPLC, small scale baking trials).

The project was supported by Fødevareforskningsprogrammet 2007 (2008-2011). To date the project has fostered international collaboration with M. Bleidere, Latvian University of Agriculture, Latvia and  K-J Muller, Cereal Research Station, Darzau, Germany.

Project 2: A novel approach for improving protein quantity and quality in feed barley

The underlying hypothesis of the project is that significant changes in amino acid composition can be achieved by modulating the relative proportions of the storage proteins. Storage proteins consist of gene families and we are characterising the allelic complements of these families as some alleles are present but expressed in certain cultivars but not in others. This implies that there is natural variation in amino acid composition that can be exploited. The project comprises a screening of a large number of barley accessions selected for high protein content and molecular and biochemical analysis are undertaken of the major group of storage proteins (hordeins) to characterize their allelic variations. The project contributes to the inherent technical issues: handling proteins and tracking these back to genes of gene families. In the current project we will concentrate on barley but the same strategy can be applied to wheat in later projects (qRT-PCR, SDS-PAGE, AA analysis by UPLC, 2D-DIGE combined with MALDI-TOF MS).

The project was supported by Fødevareforskningsprogrammet 2008 (2009-2012). The project has further collaboration with the group of Prof. Jenny Renaut, Centre de Recherche Public and Gabriel Lippmann Department of Environment and Agrobiotechnologies, Luxembourg.

Project 3: Improvement of the amino acid composition of cereals using RNAi gene-silencing technology

We generated new barley and wheat lines by genetic modification using RNAi gene-silencing technology to alter the C-hordein level in barley by introducing RNAi constructs of a C-hordein gene and its close homologue ?-gliadin from wheat. Similarly, in wheat RNAi constructs of a ?-gliadin gene is used for repression of this prolamine group. Identification of the number of insertions (Southern hybridisation); Protein pattern analysis (hordein preparation, SDS-PAGE) and determination of the amino acids composition of the transgenic grains (high pressure liquid chromatography - UPLC) revealed new, improved lines. Analysis of segregation of the single copy transgenic lines (quantitative real time PCR).

The project was supported by Fødevareforskningsprogrammet 2008 (2009-2012).

Project 4: Development of genetically modified cereals adapted to the increased CO2 levels of the future

It is now well established that increased CO2 content will result in yield increases in the form of starch while the relative content of protein and minerals is reduced. This will have far reaching consequences for the nutritional and processing quality of cereals, the primary food for man and feed for livestock. It is the aim of the current project to use genetic modification for improving protein quantity and -quality as well as the mineral content in the cereal grain to meet the food/feed demands under future conditions of elevated levels of atmospheric CO2. We will specifically focus on (i) improving nitrogen use efficiency resulting in higher protein content in the grain, (ii) increasing the zinc content of the grain and (iii) exploring the causal relationship between protein quantity/quality and the zinc content. Several materials are already on the way that can be analyzed under conditions simulating the CO2 and temperature regimes of the future. The usefulness of the existing as well as new materials will be evaluated through Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and environmental and agronomic analyses.

The project was supported by Fødevareforskningsprogrammet 2009 (2010-2013). It is a collaborative project involving several Danish Universities and groups: Dept. of Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology, Aarhus University; Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark; Dept. of Agriculture and Ecology, University of Copenhagen; Institute of Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology and Environmental Technology, University of Southern Denmark and Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University.


Project 5: Cereal cell suspension as a model system for functional genomics studies

We developed a model system of barley and wheat single cell suspension cultures. In order to characterise and validate the model we have chosen to study the response of the cell lines to abiotic stresses, for example osmotic, heavy metal (Cd) in collaboration with Prof. FeiBo Wu (Institute of Crop Science, College of Agriculture & Biotechnology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou) and UV stress using ROS indicators in collaboration with Prof. Eva Hideg, (Iniversity of Pecs, Hungary).

The project had been supported by Danida; Sino-Danish Scientific and Technological Cooperation 2006-2007 (Dong Jing, PhD student), and the 2010-2011 (Hongyan Sun, PhD student). The project has further collaboration with Dr. Steve Bowra, Verzyme, Aberystwyth, UK.