• Research group

De Vega Group

Exploring crop diversity and evolution to drive improvement

Research Fellow
Jose de Vega

Group activities.

Our group produces and integrates genomic and phenomic data from crops that are important to global food security. We explore genetic diversity in natural and induced crop populations, and key components and regulators on specific conditions, in order to improve traits of interest in the context of a changing climate and increasing demand.

We collaborate with plant breeders, researchers and genebanks, especially from other BBSRC institutes, CGIAR centres, and developing countries. We are open to new challenges and interesting projects and collaborations, and strongly support open source principles and publicly available data. We deliver capacity building and develop genomic approaches for breeding, working with breeders to ensure that their needs are met.

A lot of our work involves studying the effect and genomic context of SNPs and CNVs, comparing the transcriptomic changes on different conditions, and describing the landscape of features of relevant genomes. We focus on developing genome-wide computational pipelines for the analysis of complex genomes and large populations in a cost-effective way.

Examples of our current projects include:

  • Understanding the adaptation of the tropical grass Brachiaria to acidic soil conditions in tropical africa and America, and collaborating with breeders to develop genomic resources. (Collaborating with IBERS, and CIAT in Colombia)
  • Studying the genomic and phenomic diversity of rice cultivars in Vietnam, and identifying key components involved in salinity tolerance. (With NIAB, and AGI in Hanoi)
  • Exploring the global genetic diversity of biomass crops Miscanthus and sugarcane, and the effect of domestication on their genomes and evolution (With IBERS, and the Colombian Sugarcane Research Centre -Cenicana- in Colombia).
  • In a recent RCUK project to Grow Research Capacity in Colombia, we are scrutinising the diversity of crops relevant for the economy of Colombia.

Our impact.

We are contributing to feeding a changing world. We aim to make farming more efficient through intensification and resilient management practices, maintaining or increasing production without compromising ecosystem services.

Genetic diversity in crops is crucial for agriculture and food production. With the loss of diversity, humankind loses the potential to adapt agrosystems to new challenges, such as population growth and climate change.  Through understanding genetic differences in individuals from the same or closely-related species, we can identify the genetic information that is most pertinent to crop breeding and management.

Tools.

Publications.

Transcriptomic analysis highlights epigenetic and transcriptional regulation during zygotic embryo development of Pinus pinaster.

de Vega-Bartol, J. J., Simões, M., Lorenz, W. W., Rodrigues, A. S., Alba, R., Dean, J. F., & Miguel, C. M. (2013).  BMC plant biology, 13(1), 123. Doi: 10.1186/1471-2229-13-123