- Written by Ivan Dulgerov
A new research department, “Crop Quantitative Genetics,” will be established in CPSBB
CPSBB will establish a new department, “Crop Quantitative Genetics”, headed by Dr. Saleh Alseekh. Dr. Alseekh has a notable publication track record and scientific achievements (more than 120 publications in international peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Biotechnology, Nature Communications, Nature Genetics, Molecular Plant, Plant Cell, Trends in Plant Science; and more than 3500 citations).
The new department will develop an ambitious research programme as part of the ERA-Chair project NatGenCrop. One of its major goals is exploring the wide genetic and phenotypic variations of fleshy (tomato, pepper) and leafy (lettuce) vegetables to improve their agronomic traits under abiotic stresses (e.g. drought, salinity, and extreme temperatures). A suite of genetic and genomic approaches will be employed to identify genes contributing to high yield and stress tolerance.
In another research direction, the fruit metabolic compositions will be characterized in terms of flavour and health-related compounds to assess the impact of abiotic stress on fruit quality. A wide range of plant phenotypic and metabolic traits will be evaluated in tomatoes and pepper. Newly identified genes contributing to important traits will be subsequently validated.
Under the guidance of Dr. Alseekh, the “Crop Quantitative Genetics” department will scale up the applied research on vegetable breeding in CPSBB and the region. New PhD students in plant systems biology and biotechnology will be recruited and trained. Furthermore, the department will link with Bulgarian and international research organizations, companies, and farmer associations, creating an ecosystem network that will be highly attractive to talented researchers and have the potential to bring innovations to end users for the benefit of the society.