Joost Keurentjes carries out research into the genetic background of natural variation in complex plant properties. Many of those properties play an important role in the genetic improvement of food crops. This is why a good understanding of the causes and consequences of diversity in the gene pools of commercial crops is essential. In order to map out the connection between a plant’s genetic background on the one hand and its functioning on the other, Keurentjes uses a large number of experimental intercross populations, both in model species and in food crops.
Although in many cases physiological analysis is sufficient for the identification of genetic factors for properties, scientists are increasingly using molecular analysis to describe the underlying regulatory network for complex traits. Such a system-biological approach requires a multidisciplinary strategy and knowledge of a variety of scientific fields, including genetics, physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology and bio-informatics, all of which form part of a modern plant improvement scientist’s curriculum. This is why this chair focuses on the teaching of this new generation of scientists and on supporting specific practical objectives formulated within the green sector. The chair is co-financed by the Province of Noord-Holland.
Keurentjes is a university lecturer at Wageningen UR, the university where he has worked since 2002. He previously worked as a researcher at Utrecht University and at the Agricultural Research Service (DLO). He received a Veni grant and a Horizon grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Keurentjes has published numerous articles in leading scientific journals such as Nature Genetics, Plant Cell, PNAS and Plant Physiology. In addition, he serves as a reviewer on behalf of journals including Nature Genetics, PNAS and Plant Journal.