Professor Gail Taylor and Nikol Voutsina spent a day talking to some of the 15,000 or more visitors to the annual Watercress Festival in Alresford, Hampshire last month. The festival brings together all things watercress, from celebrity chefs demonstrating their latest recipes, to the world watercress eating championship. Nikol was on hand to discuss the research of her PhD where in her second year of study at the University of Southampton, she has completed the first sequencing of the watercress genome and identified gene expression linked to improved anti-cancer chemistry.
At the same time, the university team has also gained Plant Variety Rights for a novel watercress called ‘Boldrewood’. This new watercress is a dwarf with baby leaves but also has improved anti-chancer chemistry. It will be tested for the first time in 2015 at field-scale with a view to full commercial release.