11 March, 2021
The CDA is proud to welcome Brande Wulff as Associate Professor of Plant Science. He joins KAUST from the John Innes Centre, an international centre of excellence in plant science, genetics, and microbiology in the UK.
Professor Wulff’s research programme explores the genetics of disease resistance in wheat. This has led to developing fast, new, and efficient methods for gene discovery and cloning, which use mutant and natural populations followed by sequence alignment to locate genes.
“The wild, weedy relatives of our crops represent a veritable treasure trove of genetic variation for disease resistance, heat adaptation, drought tolerance, and other stresses. But, using conventional breeding to introduce these traits into our domesticated crops whilst maintaining high yields, end use qualities, taste, and nutrition, is akin to crossing a racehorse with a donkey; it takes many years to combine the best of both worlds.” -Brande Wulff
Wulff has co-developed a method for halving the generation time of wheat and other crops in a controlled environment, dramatically speeding up capabilities for research and breeding purposes.
His long-term aim is to use cloned genes from wild ancestors of wheat to engineer durable resistance to these diseases in cultivated wheat. He will also join ongoing efforts in the Centre for Desert Agriculture to neo-domesticate wild relatives of crops for cultivation in the harsh climes of the Middle East.
“It is a very exciting time to be joining KAUST,” commented Wulff. “The excellent cadre of scientists, facilities, and resources provide outstanding opportunities for ‘dreaming big’, engaging in multi-disciplinary projects, and making important contributions towards achieving a sustainable, food-secure future.”