Realising increased photosynthetic efficiency to increase strawberry yields

October 2018 – September 2022

Nicholas Doddrell

Increasing global requirements for food, largely due to the growing world population, has led to the need to develop higher yielding crop varieties. Transgenic and modelling studies have provided compelling evidence that increasing the levels of photosynthetic enzymes in carbon metabolism e.g. Calvin-Benson cycle has the potential to impact yield. These studies have identified photosynthetic carbon assimilation as an untapped target to increase photosynthetic efficiency and yield by as much as 60%.

In this project, Nick Doddrell is conducting research experiments:

  1. to exploit the extensive knowledge of photosynthesis and experience gained from its manipulation in model species to produce strawberry plants with enhanced photosynthetic performance and increased yield
  2. to produce new transgenic strawberry lines with altered levels of multiple targets enzymes of the Calvin-Benson cycle, photorespiration and CO2 transport
  3. to identify strawberry lines with increased biomass and fruit yield and analyse the impact on the flavour and aroma profiles of selected fruit.

Research progress

Overexpression constructs have been successfully generated and current experiments are working on perfecting the transformation and regeneration of full strawberry plants from leaflet explants (see a timeline of regeneration of the cultivars EMR 773 and Calypso in Figure 1). Methods are also being established with regards to extraction and analysis of flavour compounds of the strawberry fruit and comparison of different analytical equipment (e.g. High Performance Liquid Chromatography versus Ultra Performance Liquid Chromatography for analysis of fruit sugars, acids and phenolics) is also being carried out. Moving forward, the project will seek to develop protocols for regeneration of cultivars recalcitrant to transformation and regeneration but exhibit commercially interesting properties and scout for novel promoter sequences from the strawberry genome for future construct generation.