Blackheart is an increasing problem for UK potato growers and the grocery sector. The condition occurs during post-harvest storage and is a result of the death of cells in the central region of the tuber. The accompanying oxidation of phenolic compounds upon exposure to air results in the characteristic black appearance and leads crop wastage. Little is known about the underlying cause of blackheart or the reasons behind its varying prevalence in the tuber crop from year to year. Blackheart is not thought to be caused by a pathogen but can be triggered under by exposing tubers to increased temperatures and restricting the supply of oxygen to them, suggesting that cell death could be the result of anoxia in the tuber centre. My research project will explore the link between blackheart, the size and regulation of carbohydrate reserves in these cells and the extent to which they experience sustained hypoxia.
The project will involve biochemical analysis of tuber carbohydrate and their metabolism, advanced imaging techniques to analyse tuber-centre biochemistry non-destructively and the construction of a computational model to predict the susceptibility of different tubers to the formation of blackheart during storage. The project will also aim to generate genetically modified tubers that have reduced susceptibility to blackheart.
- Professor Nick Harberd's Research group,Plant Sciences department, University of Oxford Laboratory, Computational and Statistical Research Project Analytical whole genome studies using IGV for research due to be published in 2014. Conducting an independently devised project into the potential role of Y family polymerases in mutagenesis of Arabidopsis grown under temperature and salt stresses. Created knock out lines, designed primers, tended to plants, conducted RNA extraction, cDNA synthesis, RT-PCRs, QT-PCRs, expression profiling and statistical analysis of whole genome mutation profiles.
- Professor Sandy Knapp's Research group, Natural History Museum, London & Oxford Botanic Garden Placement in the National Herbarium developing a BRAHMS database of several Solanaceae crop species. Explored the environmental limits and stresses to plant growth using GIS software. Researched the family further to develop educational materials for biology undergraduates and the public for display in Oxford Botanic Garden.
- Professor Nick Brown's Research group, Zoology Department, University of Oxford Work experience researching quorum sensing and creating a computer models using MATLAB and Wolfram Mathematica to calculate dynamics of toxin production at varying pathogenic bacterial population sizes.
- AstraZenca laboratory, Brixham Environmental Laboratory Biochemical work experience conducting molecular analyses on water samples from across the South West using multistage mass spectrometry. Explored the effects of fertiliser use and trace chemicals in water systems and elucidated degradation rates through creation of a computer model using R.