UK-French co-operation targets crop improvements
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp
Date: September 25, 2006 05:02PM
www.checkbiotech.org ; www.raupp.info ; www.czu.cz
Three projects drawing on the expertise of researchers in both the UK and
France could translate into practical improvements in crop and agronomic
science, September 2006.
All three have received awards, worth over ?2m, from an Anglo-French
partnership between the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research
Council (BBSRC) and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
(INRA), set up to encourage international collaboration.
BBSRC is investing ?1.6 million in the three projects with INRA providing a
similar level of support in their institutes.
The new projects are being undertaken by three university and institute
consortia. The first is the University of Cambridge, Rothamsted Research,
INRA Grignon and INRA Rennes. Researchers from these institutions will look
at how a combination of mathematical modelling and experimental techniques
can be used to predict and manage evolutionary changes in pathogen
populations in order to prevent disease invasion in crops.
The second consortium is the University of York and INRA Montpellier.
Researchers will examine the genes involved in the transport of sodium and
potassium in barley and rice to explore whether a greater understanding of
their mechanisms may help develop improved crop varieties which are then
more able to grow in poor soil conditions.
And finally, the third project is being undertaken by the University of
Nottingham, the John Innes Centre, Rothamsted Research, INRA
Clermont-Ferrand and INRA Mons-Peronne. Researchers will examine the traits
and genes that enable some wheat varieties to produce more yield with less
nitrogen, with the aim of discovering how farmers may be able to use less
nitrogen fertiliser in the future.
BBSRC commissioned a review of Crop Science, published in 2004, and one of
the findings of the review was that BBSRC should take the lead in the
development of international programmes.
BBSRC and INRA joined forces last year to support crop science following a
recommendation made in the BBSRC Crop Science review that the UK community
should increase collaboration with European partners. These are the first
three projects to receive funding following the review.
"Collaborative programmes such as these are crucial in furthering our
knowledge of crop science," said BBSRC chief executive Professor Julia
"With climate change, changing food demands and the emergence of new pests
and diseases, the need to work with international partners to maximise
information sharing and effective use of resources is greater than ever."
The BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences.
Sponsored by government, BBSRC annually invests around ?350 million in a
wide range of research including the agriculture and food sectors.
INRA has been developing research in the areas of agriculture, food and
nutrition and the environment in France for 60 years.
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