Bernd Wollenweber

Associate professor

Bernd Wollenweber
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Profile

Science
My current research interest is focused on nutritional physiology, concentrating on the investigation of relevant processes controlling nutrient uptake, transport and metabolism, ultimately affecting crop quality (see below).

Polymin
A computer program detecting the minimum number of SNPs for haplotype discrimination and subsequent genotype differentiation has been developed. The main advantages of PolyMin is the integration of procedures from sequence analysis to polymorphism selection within a single program.
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My current research interest is focused on nutritional physiology, concentrating on the investigation of relevant processes controlling nutrient uptake, transport and metabolism, ultimately affecting crop quality. Research in this area is relevant in light of current environmental factors such as drought and (high) temperature, which impair nutrient acquisition and may result in nutritional imbalances.

Former activities have focused on internal regulation processes, in particular of plant acid-base balance in relation to resource acquisition of nitrogen from mineral and atmospheric (NH3) sources, cation-anion balance and the regulation of relevant enzyme activities.

The effect of high temperature-events in wheat was studied as part of an EU research project on 'Climate Change, Climatic Variability and Agriculture in Europe' (CLIVARA). Research has also focused on the investigation of important factors involved in the regulation of drought-stress in C3 and C4 crop species.

In my PhD-thesis, ecophysiological aspects of nitrogen and carboxylate metabolism were investigated and in my first post-doctoral assignment (at IAEA), work centred on the N-fixation and P-uptake of Azolla species.

Vision

While ongoing cereal research is primarily concentrating on cereals for human consumption, a similar research effort is lacking for the determination of the nutritional value of grain for animal use. For feed grain, high yield is still important, but from a financial point of view grain quality is likely to become an even more important criterion for cereal producers in the future, as feed accounts for the highest cost in animal production. Efficient feed utilization depends on the knowledge of both the nutritional value of the grain (the ability of the feed to supply the animal with energy and protein) and the requirements of the animals for nutrients.

Quality criteria in grain are influenced by relevant nutritional factors, and it is therefore essential to understand the fundamental biochemical processes influencing quality factors. The composition of the mature grain depends on the relative storage of protein and starch. Limitations in nutrient availability and of water will influence the level of many (in)organic compounds in cereals, which will in turn influence the grain quality (essential amino acids, starch, and protein). The relative amount of these storage compounds varies considerably and the value of the crop is to a large extent determined by these differences.

The accumulation of these compounds in the storage tissues is highly dependent on the photosynthetic fixation of carbon in the leaf, the translocation of photoassimilates, and the simultaneous uptake of - and supply with - relevant nutrients, in particular nitrogen. In the growing seed, the various metabolic processes will then compete for these substrates, which will eventually result in the deposition of a characteristic nutrient composition in the various storage organs.

Based on present knowledge of the variation in the nutritional value, it is currently important to a) investigate the physiological, biochemical and genetical basis for protein and starch quality-parameters in cereals and to identify the factors limiting improvements, b), to define the problems and possibilities of cultivation strategies on quality parameters in cereals, c), to determine relevant selection factors in cereals, and, d), to develop rapid analytical methods for screening of as many quality parameters as possible.

 

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