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Research highlights from BBSRC

12 August 2009

Business – the quarterly research highlights magazine from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has had a make-over.

Alongside the cutting-edge science featured in the magazine, examples of which are below, the new-look magazine also contains a new opinion slot – this issue filled by NFU president Peter Kendall commenting on the role of research in securing a vibrant and productive future for UK agriculture.

And as well as the latest news from across the BBSRC-bioscience community, each issue will also focus on BBSRC-funded research across a university department or institution. First up is the work of the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Plant Integrative Biology, where crucial root research is taking place to try and answer fundamental questions which could have a real impact on crop improvement.

The following science stories also feature in the latest issue:

Potato blight plight looks promising for food security

Over 160 years since potato blight wreaked havoc in Ireland and other northern European countries, scientists funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) finally have the blight-causing pathogen in their sights and are working to accelerate breeding of more durable, disease resistant potato varieties.

Using pathogen genomics, Professor Paul Birch from the Division of Plant Sciences, University of Dundee (at Scottish Crop Research Institute - SCRI), alongside researchers from Warwick HRI and the University of Aberdeen, is looking at how the most significant potato pathogen, Phytopthora infestans causes disease and identifying essential pathogen virulence genes that may be durable targets for host resistance proteins.
(Page 11)

External contact

Professor Paul Birch, Scottish Crop Research Institute

tel: 01382 562731

Marine microbes creating green waves in industry

New technology designed to analyse large numbers of novel marine microbes could lead to more efficient and greener ways to manufacture new drugs for conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, flu and other viruses, as well as improving the manufacture of other products such as agrochemicals.

Researchers at Heriot-Watt University and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) in collaboration with Edinburgh based company Ingenza Ltd are searching for new enzymes for use as manufacturing tools in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries. The research project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), uses biochemical techniques to identify potentially useful enzymes in microbes that are found in the sea.
(Page 12)

External contact

Dr Robert Speight, Heriot-Watt University

Dr Sohail Ali, Plymouth Marine Laboratory



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 £450M 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. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382