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Nature's factories

Nature's factories. Eva Thuenemann, Institute of Food Research
From left: George Lomonossoff, Molly Barrett, Cathie Martin and Anne Osbourn, discussing the festival stand design. Image: John Innes Centre

The team

From the John Innes Centre:

  • Professor Anne Osbourn
  • Professor Cathie Martin
  • Professor Sarah O'Connor
  • Professor George Lomonossoff
  • Dr Jenni Rant
  • Molly Barrett (artist)

The science behind the exhibit

Human evolution is closely linked to our use of plants for food and building materials and we have harnessed a rich array of plant products to improve our lives, including flavours, fragrances, agrochemicals and medicines. Only 8% of the >400,000 known plant species have been chemically characterised, giving enormous potential for discovery of new plant-derived products. Extracting compounds from plants can be difficult; their complex structures mean making them chemically is often unachievable. Our research focuses on the development of faster discovery pathways and platforms combining biological and chemical synthesis to generate large quantities of high-value compounds in sustainable ways.

About the exhibit

  • Use traditional methods to make natural remedies from plants
  • 'Meet' some super-star plants and learn how their active ingredients improve our lives
  • Turn handles and press buttons on our Nature's Factory Machine to find out how cutting-edge science is used to discover and harness new important compounds
  • Tear-off and take-away leaves from our giant 'fact-tree' and leaf (!) us your comments on a bare branch

Video

Natural products  

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Images

These images are protected by copyright law and may be used with acknowledgement.

A twisted bug's life

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Nature's factories: Cancer treatment (PDF 2.89MB)

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Nature's factories: Making vaccines (PDF 2.49MB)

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Nature's factories: Purple tomato (PDF 3.49MB)

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Nature's factories: Super broccoli (PDF 2.89MB)

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