News: 2010

UK researchers contribute to sequencing strawberry genome

26 December 2010

A consortium of researchers working across five continents, including BBSRC-funded scientists in the UK, has published the genome of the wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca). The research, published today (26 December 2010) in the journal Nature Genetics will help strawberry breeders to develop disease resistance and improve fruit quality to benefit consumers.

High profile plant disease research published by UK researchers

10 December 2010

UK researchers have published a series of papers today (10 December) in Science magazine highlighting their successful work to sequence the genomes of a range of important plant-disease causing microbes. This research will contribute to future food security by creating opportunities to enhance our knowledge of plant disease resistance, as well as uncovering potential new targets for better control of these microbes.

New bee vision database useful for food security and more

10 December 2010

A BBSRC-funded PhD student at Queen Mary, University of London has been involved in developing FReD - the Floral Reflectance Database - which holds data on what colours flowers appear to be to bees. This resource may be useful for scientists in a variety of fields and not least those looking at the important role bees play in pollinating food crops - an area of research that will contribute to future food security. The development of the catalogue, is reported in the journal PLoS ONE.

Mitchell: Crops are key in fight against climate change

4 December 2010

Crops that survive the devastating effects of climate change are needed to save the world's poorest people from hunger and poverty, the International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said today as he announced a new agricultural research programme.

Bioscience researchers defeating potato blight

18 November 2010

Researchers funded by the BBSRC Crop Science Initiative have made a discovery that could instigate a paradigm shift in breeding resistance to late blight - a devastating disease of potatoes and tomatoes costing the industry £5-6Bn a year worldwide. They will share this research with industry at an event in London later today.

New disease-resistant food crops in prospect

18 November 2010

Researchers have uncovered the genetic basis of remarkable broad-spectrum resistance to a viral infection that, in some parts of the world, is the most important pathogen affecting leafy and arable brassica crops including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, swede and oilseed rape.

Crop science projects drive benefits for farming, food security and UK economy

18 November 2010

Crop science projects funded by BBSRC have fulfilled their potential to underpin progress in plant breeding and agriculture that are needed to ensure the security of our future food supply and the sustainability of farming.

Global Food Security at CropWorld 2010

5 November 2010

Members of the Global Food Security research community were in attendance at CropWorld 2010. Staff from BBSRC's Swindon office captured some of them on camera at the Global Food Security exhibit in the Science Zone. Watch the video for a taste of what was discussed…

Global Food Security at CropWorld 2010, 1-3 November 2010

1 November 2010

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, delegates at CropWorld 2010 (formerly known as the BCPC Congress) will be finding out about the Global Food Security programme…

Tiny brained bees solve a complex mathematical problem

26 October 2010

Bumblebees can find the solution to a complex mathematical problem which keeps computers busy for days, even though they have a brain the size of a grass seed.

Scientists have discovered that bees learn to fly the shortest possible route between flowers even if they discover the flowers in a different order. Bees are effectively solving the 'Travelling Salesman Problem', and these are the first animals found to do this.

Plant fertilizers can affect pest populations

13 October 2010

Conventional fertilizers may reduce competition between different pests on the same plant, allowing them to become more abundant, a recent study funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has shown.

Researchers from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Imperial College London and the University of Southampton, wanted to test the idea that organic plants are better defended against pests than those grown using conventional methods.

Food security discussed at British Science Festival

21 September 2010

On 16 September, a British Science Festival session on ‘Food Security and Infectious diseases’ attracted around 25 delegates and proved to be intellectually stimulating with…

Fences could help clean up water courses without detrimental effects on farming

20 September 2010

Building good fences could make our water cleaner, and help us to meet European standards, according to researchers working on the UK research councils’ Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (Relu).

Relu scientists have created a computer model to investigate the problem of faecal pollution in UK rivers. The organisms come mainly from farm animals’ faeces and untreated human sewage

UK researchers release draft sequence coverage of wheat genome

27 August 2010

A team of UK researchers, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), has publicly released the first sequence coverage of the wheat genome. The release is a step towards a fully annotated genome and makes a significant contribution to efforts to support global food security and to increase the competitiveness of UK farming.

Research Medal for John Innes Centre scientist

16 August 2010

Professor James Brown of the John Innes Centre, an Institute of BBSRC, has been awarded the Royal Agricultural Society of England Research Medal in recognition of his work to combat cereal diseases. The Research Medal is presented for work of outstanding merit carried out in the UK, which is proven or likely to be of benefit to agriculture. Professor Brown’s work has been vital in protecting wheat production in the UK and is continuing to combat the threats crop diseases pose to UK food security.

Response to Food Ethics Council's "Food Justice" report

30 July 2010

BBSRC, as a partner in the Global Food Security research programme, will consider the issues around food security raised by the Food Ethics Council’s “Food Justice” report.

New funding announced to beat food poisoning bug

27 July 2010

Up to £2M is being made available today to tackle the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK - Campylobacter. Three of the UK's main public funders of food safety research have come together to invite research proposals to find out more about the organism and how best to control it. To provide safe and nutritious food for a growing world population it is important to reduce the incidence of food poisoning. Campylobacter species are responsible for more than 300,000 cases of food poisoning a year in England and Wales.

New strategy to tackle food poisoning bug

21 July 2010

A new research strategy to tackle the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK has been launched today.

The UK’s main public funders of food safety research have joined together to publish a co-ordinated strategy to investigate the food bug Campylobacter. This is the first time these organisations have agreed to a common set of objectives to tackle the problem.

The re-emergence of a destructive cereal disease poses a threat to UK wheat production

14 July 2010

BBSRC scientists are advising farmers to change their fungicide regime to help prevent loses to a destructive cereal disease. Fusarium Ear Blight (FEB) is a destructive fungal disease of cereals including wheat and has the potential to devastate a farmer's crop just weeks before harvest. Over the last 10 years, on average, 38% of wheat crops in the UK had the disease. Scientists at Rothamsted Research, an institute of the BBSRC, have discovered substantial symptomless infection in wheat ears, which means that although the plant appears healthy the fungal infection could already be beyond the control of the farmer. Hence, our scientists are advising farmers to use fungicides as a preventative measure rather than a curative approach.

Could our minds be tricked into satisfying our stomachs?

13 July 2010

The key to losing weight could lie in manipulating our beliefs about how filling we think food will be before we eat it, suggesting that portion control is all a matter of perception. BBSRC-funded studies showed that participants were more satisfied for longer periods of time after consuming varying quantities of food when they were led to believe that portion sizes were larger than they actually were. Memories about how satisfying previous meals were also played a causal role in determining how long they staved off hunger. Together, these results suggest that memory and learning play an important role in governing our appetite.

Disinfectants may be contributing to antibiotic resistance

7 July 2010

Cleaning products for use in commercial, agricultural and domestic settings could be contributing to a rise in bacterial resistance in food borne pathogens including Salmonella, BBSRC-funded scientists at Birmingham University have found. They recommend a decrease in the “frivolous” use of biocides, particularly in domestic products to ensure the number of resistant bacterial strains does not increase. Improving the control of bacteria that cause food poisoning reduces losses and wastage throughout the food production pipeline thus helping to ensure future food security.

New discovery could aid development of elusive bovine mastitis vaccine

7 June 2010

Researchers have discovered components of the bovine mastitis-causing bacterium, Streptococcus uberis that play a key role in the disease. This discovery could lead the way to finally developing a vaccine for this endemic disease, which costs UK farmers alone nearly £200M per year, requires the large scale use of antibiotics, causes pain to cows and dramatically reduces milk yield. A solution to this problem will be an important contribution to the future security of our food supply in the UK. The research is due to be published in Veterinary Research.

Helping plants to help themselves

2 June 2010

With the need to feed an ever increasing world population, we must reduce crop yield losses in new, sustainable ways. A paper published in the journal Food Security by Dr Toby Bruce from Rothamsted Research (an institute of BBSRC), emphasises the need to reduce crop losses caused by pests.

16 new transnational projects to address global challenges

21 May 2010

Brand new projects have been launched in Paris this week to meet major global challenges - including food security - using a systems biology approach. The projects involve partner organisations across Europe and are funded under the ERASysBio+ scheme, which includes Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) funding for 12 of the 16 projects, which all include at least one UK partner. BBSRC’s investment is €7.7M out of a total investment of €24M.

Study uncovers optimal ecology of bio-insecticide

20 May 2010

BBSRC-funded researchers at the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway University of London have discovered that the commonly used and naturally occurring bacterial insecticide Bt works best if applied to young plants and is enhanced by the presence of the insect pests. The research is published today (20 May) in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

Vaccination still best option for controlling ovine enzootic abortion despite possible link between vaccine and disease

17 May 2010

Scientists from Moredun Research Institute in Edinburgh, funded under the BBSRC Combating Endemic Diseases of Farmed Animals for Sustainability (CEDFAS) initiative, are encouraging sheep farmers to continue to vaccinate against Ovine Enzootic Abortion (OEA) on the day that they publish research that shows the vaccines used to control OEA in UK sheep could themselves cause abortion.

New screen for safer food crops

14 May 2010

John Innes Centre scientists are working on a way to screen crop plants for toxic accumulation. The genetic screen will be particularly useful for crops grown in tropical and sub-Saharan Africa.

Modern farming and healthy butterfly populations can co-exist through better management of land

29 March 2010

The way grassland buffer strips are maintained could have a significant impact on improving biodiversity on farms, according to BBSRC-funded research carried out by the University of Reading. Over a two-year period, Reading PhD student Robin Blake managed to almost double the number of butterflies on existing grass buffer strips, by finding an effective way of encouraging wildflower growth.

Major new research effort targets key pig diseases

17 March 2010

A consortium of researchers in Cambridge and London has been awarded a £5M LoLa (Longer and Larger) grant from BBSRC to develop a way of diagnosing and preventing respiratory diseases in pigs. These bacterial diseases are a major animal welfare issue and cost the pig industry millions of pounds every year through both morbidity and mortality.

UK research community unites to help ensure future food security

11 March 2010

The UK’s main public funders of food-related research and training will today (11 March) join together to launch a new programme aimed at meeting the challenge of providing the world’s growing population with a sustainable, secure supply of good quality food using less land and fewer resources

Public-private research partnership to develop improved crops for food security

11 March 2010

A new research initiative has been launched to accelerate the development of improved crops with higher yields and consistent, high quality products. The £6M Crop Improvement Research Club (CIRC) is led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)…

New Director for John Innes Centre

2 March 2010

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the John Innes Foundation and the John Innes Centre Governing Council have announced the appointment of Professor Dale Sanders FRS as Director and Chief Executive of the John Innes Centre (JIC).

Genome of crop pest reveals nature of a complex symbiosis

24 February 2010

New research into the genome sequence of a major feed pest, funded in part by a joint BBSRC/ANR initiative, is providing an unprecedented opportunity both to understand its biology and to help to develop biological methods of control - with significant implications for food security.

Study shows China could reduce fertiliser use and maintain food security

17 February 2010

A study published in Science shows that over-use of ammonium-based fertilisers in China has caused soil acidification that is 100 times greater than that associated with acid rain. This has implications for the protection of ecosystems and their biodiversity and has led to a significant rise in emissions of the harmful greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. In addition, large amounts of nitrogen are released as ammonia which further contributes to acid rain.

BBSRC to join Gates Foundation to host African workshop on biotic stress crops

16 February 2010

BBSRC is collaborating with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Biosciences eastern and central Africa - International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub to bring together scientists from sub-Saharan Africa, the USA and UK to foster scientific collaborations with the potential to create new pathways out of poverty for African farming families.

Scientists take on global livestock threat to reduce poverty and increase food security

15 February 2010

£13M of new research is being launched today to tackle the significant and growing threat posed by livestock diseases to global food security and livelihoods in developing countries. More than 900 million people in the developing world live below the poverty line in rural areas. Just one animal can meet a whole family’s needs, offering individuals a way out of poverty. But deadly and debilitating livestock diseases jeopardise this and lead to an increase in food prices.

Plants under attack send finely-tuned aromatic cry for help

11 February 2010

These odours often act as distress signals, which attract natural enemies of the insect pests. The research, carried out in collaboration with the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Kenya, reveals that the quality of these signals in terms of blend composition and chemical identity can be more important than the total amount of odour released. This study is published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

£15M scheme to train hundreds in vital food security R&D

10 February 2010

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is today (10 Feb 2010) committing up to £15M to establish training for food security research and development. The Advanced Training Partnerships scheme is announced at the same time as the launch of the new industry-led AgriSkills Strategy, which is being launched by Lantra (the sector skills council for environmental and land-based industries) and NFU with support from the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Bluetongue vaccine given to pregnant ewes protects lamb after birth

8 February 2010

Dr Chris Oura and colleagues at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH), an institute of BBSRC, have shown for first time that lambs born to ewes that had been vaccinated during the second year of a bluetongue (BT) vaccination programme were protected against disease after birth.

Scaling-up key to meet food security challenge

18 January 2010

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is today (18 January) meeting with 50 leading agri-food scientists to identify coordinated ways to translate lab-based research into farm-scale projects to address the future global food security challenges.

New Director for world’s oldest agricultural research institute

14 January 2010

Professor Maurice Moloney has been announced as the new Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research. He will take up the full duties of his new post from 15 April 2010.

Response from Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, to Oxford Farming Conference survey findings

7 January 2010

“BBSRC is pleased to have had the opportunity to sponsor two surveys on agricultural research, which were presented at the Oxford Farming Conference this week.”

Only greater agricultural science co-operation will deliver production and sustainability gains

6 January 2010

Farmers, scientists, the food industry and the Government must work more closely if UK agriculture is to increase production while protecting the environment.
That was a key finding of two pieces of unique research into future agricultural science needs revealed at the Oxford Farming Conference today (6 January 2010).

BBSRC welcomes new science research strategy for food security and sustainability

6 January 2010

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the UK’s largest funder of agriculture and food related research, has welcomed and pledged its support for the new science research strategy to help improve the security and sustainability of our food system launched by the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Professor John Beddington.