Commission funds unique EU-China research expedition

October 14, 2002

Brussels, 11 Oct 2002

Scientists from the UK and Spain will be among the first European researchers to visit the most remote areas of China, thanks to a Commission funded collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing.

The research team, including academics from the Universities of Leicester and Sevilla, will mount expeditions to unique soda lakes, salt lakes and hot springs in remote regions of Mongolia and Tibet.

'The aim is to explore and access microbial biodiversity at these exceptional sites with a view to the discovery of a new generation of industrial catalysts that will be tested and developed for use in the textile and detergent industries,' explained Professor Bill Grant from the University of Leicester.

Professor Grant told CORDIS News that the first of three visits to China is planned for January, and that 'the whole team is very much looking forward to it!' One truly innovative aspect of the project is that it will directly access useful genes by DNA extraction, without the need to retrieve microbes by culture.

The project is receiving funds from the European Commission under the quality of life and management of living resources section of the Fifth Framework Programme. The market for industrial catalysts is currently worth more than one billion dollars per year, and has a major impact on worldwide energy savings.

This will be the first time that European scientists have been give access to such extreme Chinese environments, and the project will establish an important bridgehead in microbial biotechnology cooperation between the EU and China.

For further information, please contact Barbara Whiteman from the University of Leicester: ara@le.ac.uk

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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