Sofia Kourmpetli is a lecturer at Cranfield University, UK, and the director of an MSc course in Future Food Sustainability. Her current research focused on grain development and the genetic control of grain quality traits in cereal crops. She is particularly interested in investigating the genetic regulatory networks that link fundamental developmental biology with metabolic processes in the grain, with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the complex mechanisms that control grain quality and identify targets for potential crop improvement.
Temperate cereals, such as wheat, barley and rye, are of great importance for human consumption and animal feed. Even though breeders have been constantly improving the yield potential and quality traits of these major crops, our understanding of the genetic regulatory networks that control key aspects of grain development and quality is still limited. Brachypodium distachyon, as a sister to the core pooids that include the above mentioned cereals, represents a good model for the study of grain development and evolution. Using a comparative developmental and transcriptomic approach, we aim to gain an insight into the transcriptional regulation of key stages in grain development and how they might affect the final grain quality.
We have sequenced the transcriptome of several developmental stages of the Brachypodium grain, from pre-anthesis ovaries, to mature grain. A germination stage was also included in our analysis, in order to capture the transcriptomic changes that occur during this dynamic process. Finally, a young seedling sample was sequenced alongside, to serve as a vegetative control, but also to shed more light into the plants’ early life after grain germination. Our comprehensive transcriptomic analysis, represents a new valuable resource for the investigation of gene expression patterns throughout grain development and germination. Used in a comparative context, it can contribute to the identification of novel gene functions and new transcriptional regulators of grain quality traits in cereal crops.