Research in our group is directed at improving the health impact of wheat starch, to try to reduce the impact of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes. These conditions have seen major increases in both developed and developing countries, underpinned by the consumption of starchy, energy-rich foods.
Our aim is to improve the starch quality in wheat, the most widely grown cereal crop, in a way that leads to substantial improvements to human health. Our approach is to understand how new variation in wheat starch genes affects starch structure and digestibility in the grain, and then using this information to fine-tune starch structure and design new wheat’s with slowly-digested and resistant starches. We will then investigate the health impacts of these novel wheat starches.
Our research is a joint project between the Quadram Institute and the John Innes Centre, reflecting our interdisciplinary approach combining crop genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics. The translational aspects of this research will see us collaborating with crop breeders, seed companies, growers and food industry to deliver future foods that benefit consumers, and reduce the burden on healthcare providers and governments.