Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Per Gregersen

Research area: Gene regulation in development and stress adaptation of cereal crop plants

The cereals, e.g. barley and wheat, are extreme monocarpic plants exerting a fast and radical transition from a vigorously growing green plant into a fully matured harvestable plant over a relatively short period. We are studying the components and genetic regulation of this process, the senescence process, that is of importance for the yield level of the crop and for its quality, e.g. in terms of mineral nutrient contents of the harvested grain. Senescence is highly influenced by environmental stress, and hence we also have a focus on stress adaptation of cereal crop plants, involving disease resistance genes and the formation of secondary metabolites.

Fig. 1. Development of the cereal plant with remobilization of nutrients during senescence.

Project areas:

1)      Leaf senescence in cereals, with the focus on regulation by NAC transcription factors.

  • NAC transcription factors in senescence (FTP 2008-13)
    • Michael W. Christiansen, Postdoc
  • Croplife: Enhanced plant productivity through control of lifespan (Marie Curie ITN 2010-14)
    • Colette Matthewman, Postdoc
    • Dagmara Podzimska, PhD student

2)      Disease resistance genes in wheat, focused on the development of a screening strategy to assign specificity to pathogen strain-specific resistance genes.

  • Natural resistance in GMO (R-genes in wheat) (DSF 2010-14)
    • Christina R. Ingvardsen, AC-TAP
    • Remy Kronbak, PhD student

3)      Regulation of genes in the benzoxazinoid biosynthetic pathway in rye and wheat, for the production of putatively health-promoting secondary metabolites in cereals.

  • Bread & Breakfast (DSF 2011-14)
    • Fariha Tanwir, PhD student

Methods and techniques used across the projects:

  • Gene expression analysis using:
    • qPCR – ABI Prism7900HT
    • DNA microarrays – Agilent, Affymetrix
    • R-based analysis of gene expression data.
    • Experimental transgenic barley and wheat plants
      • Genetic transformation for up-regulation or silencing of  candidate genes  (Agrobacterium and biolistics)
      • NGS (Illumina) for transcriptome assembly in wheat