Within my Marie Curie project entitled “Zinc interaction with Phosphorus in Root Uptake” (ZIPRU) I will study interaction of Zn and P in chosen Brassica oleracea cultivars. The project was developed with excellent support from Prof. P.J. White at The James Hutton Institute and in short this is the description of what it will entail (somewhat edited version of the abstract to the submitted project proposal)

The overall goal of this project is to understand phosphorus (P) and zinc (Zn) interactions in the mineral nutrition of Brassica oleracea, a species that has been bred into a wide range of crops such as broccoli, cabbage, kale and cauliflower. To achieve this, we will develop a comprehensive understanding of key mechanisms and coordination of P-Zn cross-talk that allows high P-use-efficiency (PUE) plus high Zn accumulation and thereby provide the basis for breeding programmes combining improved PUE and increased shoot Zn concentrations. Selected B. oleracea genotypes with extreme PUE and shoot Zn concentrations identified recently by the host lab and collaborators will be studied stepwise using a multidisciplinary approach including state of the art methods. Firstly, the genotypes will be characterised phenotypically, specifically for yield, root architecture traits and bulk mineral element concentrations. Secondly, root exudates will be characterised biochemically. Thirdly, tissue-specific localization of mineral elements, specifically P and Zn, will be determined. Fourthly, gene expression profiles will be studied. The anticipated results will be used to promote sustainable agriculture, through a reduction in fertiliser inputs and to improve dietary mineral element intakes by increasing the mineral element content of edible crops. Breeding varieties with greater PUE, without having a significant negative impact on shoot Zn content, is one strategy to simultaneously reduce the use of P fertilizers and combat dietary Zn deficiencies. Through the execution of the research, the skills acquired, and the collaborative network developed, the candidate will gain means essential to follow an independent scientific career.

In this category I will describe the status of the project and the outcomes. For now I am still bulking chosen cultivars to get enough seed for experiments. In the meantime I am facing another challenge, writing a review on the topic. This is my first attempt to write a review and it is going slower than I anticipated. It was the naivety in me, I guess, when I was getting excited about it at the beginning, but I am determined to succeed. Let’s see how it goes…