NIAB - National Institute of Agricultural Botany

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Dr Kay Trafford

Dr Kay TraffordProgramme Leader

Phone: 01223 342498
Email: Kay Trafford

Research interests

  • The biochemistry, molecular biology and evolution of starch biosynthesis in plants, particularly in cereal grains.
  • The effects of mutations in barley and other grains on endosperm starch quality and quantity.
  • The partitioning of carbon in developing endosperm between starch and cell wall components.

Most recent publications (2008- 2013):

  • Rapid marker-assisted development of advanced recombinant lines from barley starch mutants. (2013). Phil Howell, Fiona Leigh, Ruth Bates, Nick Gosman, Kay Trafford, Wayne Powell, Alison M Smith, Andy Greenland. Molecular Breeding, in press.
  • Grain development in Brachypodium and other grasses: Interactions between cell expansion, starch deposition and cell wall synthesis. 2013. Kay Trafford, Pauline Haleux, Marilyn Henderson, Mary Parker, Neil J. Shirley, Matthew R. Tucker, Geoffrey B.  Fincher, Rachel A. Burton. Journal of Experimental Botany, in press
  • A rice mutant lacking a large subunit of ADPglucose pyrophosphorylase has drastically reduced starch content in the culm but normal plant morphology and yield. (2012). Frederick R Cook, Brendan Fahy and Kay Trafford. Functional Plant Biology 39, 1068-1078. In press.
  • Waxy-phenotype evolution in the allotetraploid cereal broomcorn millet: Mutations at the GBSSI locus in their functional and phylogenetic context. (2012) Hunt HV, Moots HM, Graybosch RA, Jones H, Parker M, Romanova O, Jones MK, Howe CJ, Trafford K. Molecular Biology and Evolution. In press.
  • Identification of a major QTL controlling the content of B-type starch granules in Aegilops. (2011). Howard T, Rejab NA, Griffiths S, Leigh F, Leverington-Waite M, Simmonds J, Uauy C, Trafford K. Journal of Experimental Botany 62: 2217-28.
  • The role of α-glucosidase in germinating barley grains. (2011). D. Stanley, M. Rejzek, H. Naested, M. Smedley, S. Otero, B. Fahy, F. Thorpe, R. J. Nash, W. Harwood, B. Svensson, K. Denyer, R. A. Field, A. M. Smith. Plant Physiology 155: 932-943.
  • Chemical genetics and cereal starch metabolism: structural basis of the non-covalent and covalent inhibition of barley β-amylase. (2011). M. Rejzek, C. E. Stevenson, A. M. Southard, D. Stanley, K. Denyer, A. M. Smith, M. J. Naldrett, D. M. Lawson, R. A. Field, Molecular BioSystems 7: 718-730.
  • Sub-cellular analysis of starch metabolism in developing barley seeds using a non-aqueous fractionation method. (2011) Axel Tiessen, Annika Nerlich, Benjamin Faix, Christine Hümmer, Simon Fox, Kay Trafford, Hans Weber, Winfriede Weschkeand Peter Geigenberger. Journal of Experimental Botany 63: 2071-2087.
  • Molecular basis of the waxy endosperm starch phenotype in broomcorn millet(Panicum miliaceum L.). Harriet V. Hunt, Kay Denyer, Len C. Packman, Martin K. Jones, Christopher J. Howe. (2010). Molecular Biology and Evolution 27: 1478–1494.
  • Storage product synthesis and accumulation in developing grains of wheat (2009). Peter R. Shewry, Claudia Underwood, Yongfang Wan, Alison Lovegrove, Dhan Bhandari, Geraldine Toole, E.N. Clare Mills, Kay Denyer, Rowan A.C. Mitchell. Journal of Cereal Science 50: 106-112.
  • The evolution of the starch biosynthetic pathway in cereals and other grasses (2009).
    Sylviane Comparot-Moss; Kay Denyer. Journal of Experimental Botany 60, 2481-2492.


Current projects

  • B-granule project. BBSRC Crop Industry Research Club Grant (2012-2016). Principle investigator: Kay Trafford, NIAB. Our aim is to understand the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that determine starch granule size and shape in wheat and barley. This proposal builds on prior work in which we identified a major QTL controlling the content of B-type starch granules in Aegilops (Howard et al., 2011). Our ultimate goal is to identify and manipulate the gene responsible for the control of B-granule content in wheat and barley, Bgc-1. In this proposal we will fine map the Aegilops Bgc-1 gene, and in parallel, produce B-granule-less lines of wheat for functionality testing by selecting and stacking deletions of the Bgc-1 homoeologous regions. If the Bgc-1 gene is identified, we will begin to manipulate it to produce B-granules-less wheat and barley.
  • Large embryo project. The aim of this project is to identify the genetic basis of the large embryo phenotype in four independent mutants of barley with lesions at the Lys3 locus. The immature embryos of lys3 mutants also have high rates of shoot production in culture which means that lys3 mutants can be transformed with much higher efficiencies than with their wild-type controls. Our goal is to identify the Lys3 gene by positional cloning in order to study it at a molecular level. This will enhance our understanding of the control of embryo size in cereal grains. Ultimately, this knowledge may enable separation of the favourable (nutritional enhancements) from the unfavourable (yield depression) traits of the lys3 phenotype. Identification of the Lys3 gene has the added advantage of decreasing the cultivar-specificity of transformation in barley and potentially, in other cereals also.