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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Watercress takes the prize

Published: 27 April 2015
Nikol Voutsina

Nikol Voutsina, a second year PhD student in the laboratory of Gail Taylor was awarded the prize for best poster at the recent Genetics Society Annual Meeting, entitled ‘Breeding for beer, bacon and biofuels’ that described the research of her PhD project on watercress.



This crop is a favourite of the group and for good reason – watercress is known to have powerful chemical properties that prevent cancer cell development and is high in anti-oxidants and other chemo-protective chemicals. Nikol is undertaking ground-breaking research to develop the first genomic resources in watercress that will allow future targeted breeding using molecular tools but without the need for a GM crop. She has produced the first genomic information on watercress sequencing 87 million base pairs of DNA and identifying over 40,000 genes including those for high glucosinolate content, which are known pre-cursors of the anti-cancer watercress chemicals. The next step in her research has been to cross high and low glucosinolate lines and produce the first genetic map for this crop.


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