39 North Innovation District Plan Unveiled
The Science in Our Food
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Soon after Malia Gehan, Ph.D. joined the Danforth Center as a principal investigator in 2016, she initiated a unique research program that designs, engineers and develops tools to accelerate the pace of discovery to enhance crop productivity.
- MALIA GEHAN, PH.D.,
“The Hyperspectral Development Platform has the potential to distinguish early plant responses to stressors like viruses, pathogens, nutrient deficit, drought and temperature stress. These signatures of stress could then be used to develop screens at a lower cost,” said Gehan.
STRESS TOLERANT CROPS
Because the new technology installation is able to measure many types of plants, including the model system Arabidopsis, and food security crop Cassava, it will advance research in laboratories throughout the Center. Gehan is particularly interested in learning more about the protein-rich crop quinoa, which provides a complete amino acid profile and is also tolerant to many stresses like drought and cold. The more she can discover about quinoa’s phenotype through non-destructive imaging, the greater the potential for understanding how other important crops interact with their environment.
FACTS ABOUT QUINOA (KEEN-WAH)
• The orphan crop is native to Peru and related to beets, chard and spinach
• It is referred to as a “superfood” or “mother of all grain” in the Incan language
• The grain is packed with protein, fiber and various vitamins and minerals
• Quinoa is a completed protein, offering all nine essential amino acids
• It grows in sandy, well-drained soils and moderate salinity
• Between 2006 and 2013, Quinoa crop prices tripled
| Hyperspectral Development PlatformRobotsBellwether Plant Phenotyping FacilityGehan LabStress TolerantQuinoa