UK horticultural crop research organisation NIAB EMR has appointed Dr Andrew Simkin to lead its emerging fruit quality and development research programme.
Dr Simkin will be expanding NIAB EMR’s capabilities in fruit quality research in perennial and annual horticultural crops, tackling the challenge of improving the flavour and health benefits associated with fruit consumption. He will be joining NIAB EMR’s increasingly successful Genetics, Genomics and Breeding (GGB) Team, responsible for Malling Centenary, one of the most sought after strawberry varieties currently in the marketplace, as well as world-leading perennial genomics expertise, such as the BBSRC and industry funded international consortium sequencing the octoploid strawberry.
Dr Richard Harrison, NIAB EMR’s Head of Genetics, says, “It is a pleasure to welcome Andy to the team at East Malling. Our research programme will benefit enormously from his experience, skills and knowledge, both here in the UK and internationally, and help expand our crop expertise into other crops. His appointment is a great endorsement of NIAB EMR’s vision to lead the UK in horticultural crop innovation.”
Speaking about his appointment Dr Simkin highlighted the opportunities in being part of an organisation that has an international reputation for independence and innovation in applied science: “There is a major need across many horticultural crops to increase yield and production efficiency, but this must go hand in hand with enhanced quality, flavour and beneficial compounds. I very much look forward to leading NIAB EMR’s research activity in this important area.”
Dr Simkin joins NIAB EMR from the University of Essex where he was a senior researcher focusing on improving yield in wheat through manipulation of photosynthetic efficiency. A key area of Dr Simkin’s experience is the study of carotenoid deposition in tomato, pepper and coffee and carotenoid cleavage enzymes implicated in the generation of numerous volatile and non-volatile organic compounds implicated tomato fruit quality and aroma (ie β-ionone). He has previously worked at Syngenta with tomato plants to improve fruit quality and yield and the study of coffee genetics to improve aroma/flavour quality and productivity with Nestlé. Dr Simkin has also worked on the subcellular localisation of enzymes implicated in indole alkaloid metabolism in the Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), a pantropical Apocynaceae that synthesises a wide range of economically important pharmaceuticals.