Fruit and Vegetable Crops

Genes, Genomics and Epigenetics

Fruits and vegetables are high value crops important to human diet and health and global food security. The research on fruit focuses on tomato as a model for understanding the development and ripening of fleshy fruits. In vegetables, our primary focus is on resource-use and edible quality of leafy Brassica crops. In both cases work is jointly funded by both industry and RCUK. Work on other crops includes collaborations with the Nottingham Malaysia campus for genetic analysis of oil palm, date palm and other tree species. Also on underutilised crops through Crops for the Future Research Centre; a major international project funded by Government of Malaysia.


Key aims and expertise

The Seymour lab aims to understand the molecular, genetic and epigenetic basis of tomato fruit development and ripening. Tomato is the established model for understanding fruit ripening and a systems approach is being used to identify regulatory genes controlling shelf-life to reduce postharvest waste and improve health benefits, without compromising flavour. Martin Broadley is investigating resource capture in brassica and biofortification of this crop. Work by Sean Mayes is focused on QTL mapping in major and minor crops and understanding the genetic basis of important crop traits, while Colin Black is investigating resource capture in crops in the semi-arid tropics.

Current projects

Understanding the mechanistic basis of fruit development and ripening for improved quality and reduced post-harvest waste (Graham Seymour)

Resource capture and biofortification of Brassica crops (Martin Broadley)

Application of biotechnology and breeding to underutilised crop species using bambara groundnut as an exemplar (Sean Mayes).

Significant results

  • The UK contribution to the international tomato genome sequencing project was spearheaded by Graham Seymour and colleagues from Imperial and the James Hutton Institute. The genome assembly was published in 2012 (The Tomato Genome Consortium (2012) Nature 485:635-641). It is an essential resource for identification of and modulation of genes under fruit quality QTL (Chapman et al (2012) Plant Physiology 159: 1644-1657; Patent applications W02011/051120, W02012/041856) which have now been tested successfully in pre-commercial trials.
  • We have identified quantitative trait loci linking root phenotypes to nutrient capture and growth in Brassica crops, under controlled and field conditions, and we are using these frameworks to link novel high-thoughput root and nutrient phenotyping to support the development and management of new crop varieties, with industry support.
  • Multilocational trials have been established to support the uptake of bambara groundnut, from genomics to markets.

Fruit and Vegetable Crops

The University of Nottingham
C14 Plant Sciences, Sutton Bonington Campus
Loughborough, LE12 5RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 6323