New awards to fund agricultural research

September 25, 2006

Brussels, 22 Sep 2006

The UK-based Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) have awarded three new crop science awards, worth some €3 million to three new collaborative projects. The three four-year projects aim to promote international collaboration and transform basic plant research into practical crop and agronomic improvements.

Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: 'Collaborative programmes such as these are crucial in furthering our knowledge of crop science. 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 and INRA came together following a recommendation in the BBSRC's Crop Science review, which suggested that the agricultural community did not involve itself enough with European partners.

The three consortia are as follows:

- The University of Cambridge, Rothamsted Research, INRA Grignon and INRA Rennes 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 University of York and INRA Montpellier 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.

- Finally, the University of Nottingham, the John Innes Centre, Rothamsted Research, INRA Clermont-Ferrand and INRA Mons-Peronne will examine the traits and genes which 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.

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