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£13M to harness science for better crops

9 January 2007

The UK’s primary public funder of bioscience research has today (9 January) announced over £13M of research projects to turn ideas from excellent basic plant science into practical applications to benefit the UK’s farmers and consumers.

With the challenges to agriculture posed by climate change and an increasing need to grow and farm in sustainable ways the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has awarded funding to 18 projects that will aim to address real-world issues. New research will exploit the world-class basic plant science and plant genetics in the UK to improve the sustainability of agriculture and look at problems including:

  • How to grow crops able to cope with climate change
  • How to breed vegetables that remain nutritious after days in the fridge
  • How to grow more effective biofuels to help reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels.
  • How to exploit plants more effectively to produce better bread, beer, biodegradable carrier bags and for other applications.

These and other projects funded by the BBSRC Crop Science Initiative are described in a full media briefing.

Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: “The UK is home to some of the best plant science in the world. We want to harness this and exploit it to address some of the pressing issues that we face. BBSRC’s aim is to support basic crop research that will produce outcomes to make farming more sustainable and able to meet the challenges of a changing environment.”

The BBSRC Crop Science Initiative follows an earlier review of the Council’s support for crop science which found that UK crop research needed to better translate basic plant science into new crop varieties to help growers, industry and consumers. The projects announced today are intended to help do this.

ENDS

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

Images

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Aphids on leaf (65 KB)

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Barley (16 KB)

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A) Arabidopsis wild type (left) and max mutant (right) with increased branching. This collaborative project will investigate the role of MAX genes in willow (B-C) to understand the control of shoot number, which is related to shoot thickness and biomass yield. Examples show: (B) willow with few thick stems and (C) more, thinner stems. (38 KB)

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Fragaria vesca, wild woodland strawberry (54 KB)

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Virus resistant Brassicas (58 KB)

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

Contact

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299
fax: 01793 413382

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382