Research - Plant Biotechnology
The ETH cassava research team uses conventional and cutting-edge molecular tools to characterize natural resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses in the cassava germplasm. We also take advantage of genome editing and transgenesis tools in order to study gene functionalities and engineer cassava with improved traits. We are fully committed to build science capacity and to bring cassava crop innovation to universities and research institutes located in countries where cassava improvement can improve the livelihood of local farmers, consumers as well as small and medium sized industries.
Cereal Biotechnology Research
Cereals team is studying different aspects of rice and wheat improvement including iron biofortification as well as studies on biotic and abiotic stresses. We use state of art technologies to identify the underlying high-value genes in the candidate cultivars, targeting drought and phosphorous deficiency in rice; iron and zinc deficiencies in wheat and rice; and for rice blast resistance. We also study the molecular mechanisms playing central role in mobilization of micronutrients to the grains, in order to identify candidate genes that can be followed up in biotechnological and/or breeding approaches to improve grain micronutrient content. We use transcriptomic approaches in order to investigate the limits on the import of micronutrients into the rice endosperm through detailed study on individual cell types comprising the rice grain.
The research in the group of protein dynamics and regulation is aimed at understanding how protein levels and their activity are regulated, and how this is related to their function and their localisation inside the cell and the plant. Proteins are the main effectors inside cells and their abundance and activity are regulated at different levels, including transcription, translation, post-translational modification and degradation. One of our main research topics is to investigate the role of protein degradation by the ubiquitin-26S proteasome system in protein level regulation at different times of the day, in different leaf cell types and in response to various stimuli. Integrating different data types we also aim at modelling the dynamics of protein synthesis and degradation and to enhance our understanding of the regulation of gene expression in general. Furthermore, we are investigating post-translational modifications and their sites of protein attachment to study their effect on protein stability and activity.