Arabidopsis Research Roundup: June 3rd 2015

We are unashamedly biased in this weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup which firstly features work from the group of GARNet PI Jim Murray about the genetic interactions that define growth of lateral organs. Elsewhere we highlight papers that investigate a different role for CYCD3 genes in vascular development, the role of TFL1 in the shoot meristem and the ability of Arabidopsis seedling to tolerant a high light environment during ontogenesis.

Randall RS, Sornay E, Dewitte W, Murray JA (2015) AINTEGUMENTA and the D-type cyclin CYCD3;1 independently contribute to petal size control in Arabidopsis: evidence for organ size compensation being an emergent rather than a determined property Journal Experimental Botany http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erv200

Jim Murray and Walter Dewitte (Cardiff) lead this study that investigates the relationship between the AINTEGUMENTA (ANT) transcription factor and cyclin CYCD3;1 during lateral aerial organ (LAO) formation. LAO growth is determined by the both the number and size of cells that comprise the organ. During petal development, ant mutants have reduced cell number but increased cell size, demonstrating a ‘compensatory mechanism’ of growth. In contrast cycd3;1 mutants have increased cell size that results in larger petals, showing no compensatory mechanism. Interestingly ant cycd3;1 double mutants do show growth compensation in the same tissue. The authors propose that occurrence of the compensatory mechanism depends on at which time-point during distinct phases of cell division and cell expansion the growth defect occurs.

 

C Collins, Maruthi M.N and C Jahn (2015) CYCD3 D-type cyclins regulate cambial cell proliferation and secondary growth in Arabidopsis. Journal Experimental Botany http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erv218

Another study that investigates a different role of D-type cyclins is led by former Murray lab member, Carl Collins working at the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich. The factors that control cambial cell growth are poorly understood but the authors provide a link between the cell cycle and cambial differentiation by showing that CYCD3 subgroup of genes play a role in the process. Three CYCD3 genes are expressed in cambial tissue and the equivalent triple mutant has reduced hypocotyl and stem diameter, which is linked to a reduction in mitotic activity. Conversely, mutant xylem cells increased in size. This shows that CYCD3 genes provide a mechanism for controlling the correct proportions of cell growth during vascular development. This might provide a useful tool in the future study of this important process in woody plants.

 

Carvalho FE, Ware MA, Ruban AV (2015) Quantifying the dynamics of light tolerance in Arabidopsis plants during ontogenesis Plant Cell Environment http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/pce.12574

The group of Professor Alexander Ruban at Queen Marys University London utilise a novel methodology to measure the ‘intactness’ of photosystem II (PSII). In this paper they assess the amount of light required to inhibit PSII activity through the life cycle of Arabidopsis plants grown in short days. They show that maximum light tolerance occurs in 8-week old plants. Interestingly the light tolerance correlates with rates of electron transport yet did not coincide with the chlorophyll a/b ratios or anthocyanin content.

 

Baumann K, Venail J, Berbel A, Domenech MJ, Money T, Conti L, Hanzawa Y, Madueno F, Bradley D (2015) Changing the spatial pattern of TFL1 expression reveals its key role in the shoot meristem in controlling Arabidopsis flowering architecture. Journal Experimental Botany http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jxb/erv247

The TFL1 gene is a repressor of flowering in the Arabidopsis shoot meristem. Researchers from the UK, USA, Spain and Italy, led by Desmond Bradley at the JIC show that ecoptocally expressed TFL1 can repress flowering outside of its normal expression domain. By comparing the expression of TFL1 with genes that determine floral identity (APETALA, LEAFY) the authors conclude that the shoot meristem is more sensitive to TFL1, allowing the maintenance of a vegetative state in this tissue.

Arabidopsis Research Roundup: May 27th

This weeks Arabidopsis Research Roundup sees a small number of high quality publications driven by UK-based researchers together with a couple of collaborative efforts that highlight the international aspect of research. Topics include two greatly different descriptions of how a plant responds to attack, an investigation into the intersection of vesicle and potassium transport as well as descriptions of auxin and sugar signaling.

Sarris PF, Duxbury Z, Huh SU, Ma Y, Segonzac C, Sklenar J, Derbyshire P, Cevik V, Rallapalli G, Saucet SB, Wirthmueller L, Menke FL, Sohn KH, Jones JD (2015) A Plant Immune Receptor Detects Pathogen Effectors that Target WRKY Transcription Factors. Cell 161, p1089-1100 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2015.04.024

Jonathan Jones at the Sainsbury lab collaborated with his ex-PhD student Kee Hoon Sohn (now at Massey University in NZ) to produce this high profile publication in Cell. Professor Jones’s group has been in the vanguard of research into the response to bacterial pathogens and this paper adds a further layer of understanding as they show that the plant uses a bacteria’s own ‘attack mechanism’ against itself. Many bacterial effector proteins target WRKY DNA-binding protein domains in order to interfere with transcription. This work shows that the plant defence factor RRS1 also contains a WRKY domain, enabling it to ‘sense’ when the bacteria is in the cell and act as a decoy that makes the bacteria subsequently open to attack.

 

Jaouannet M, Morris JA, Hedley PE, Bos JI (2015) Characterization of Arabidopsis Transcriptional Responses to Different Aphid Species Reveals Genes that Contribute to Host Susceptibility and Non-host Resistance. PLos Pathogens 11: e1004918.

The group of Jorunn Bos at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee looked at a different aspect of the defence response whereby they investigated transcriptional responses to aphid predation on Arabidopsis. Host and non-host responses to aphids show a high degree of overlap in expression but interestingly the host response included repressive of genes involved in metabolism and oxidative response. This type of study will pave the way for the future development of aphid control strategies in crop plants and once again highlights the utility of Arabidopsis as a model system.

MyzusPersicae

Zhang B, Karnik R, Wang Y, Wallmeroth N, Blatt MR, Grefen C (2015) The Arabidopsis R-SNARE VAMP721 Interacts with KAT1 and KC1 K+ Channels to Moderate K+ Current at the Plasma Membrane Plant Cell [Epub]

Control of potassium channels is the focus of this work from Mike Blatt’s lab at the University of Glasgow. They identify a subset of SNARE proteins (that are involved in vesicle trafficing) that control K+ channels, albeit in an unconventional manner. The vesicle-associated membrane proteins 721 (VAMP721) is able to target vesicles as well as supressing the actitivty of the K+ channels KAT1 and KC. This leads to a model whereby different subsets of SNARE proteins opposingly effect K+ channel activity alongside having an effect on vesicular transport.

 

Panoli A, Martin MV, Alandete-Saez M, Simon M, Neff C, Swarup R, Bellido A, Yuan L, Pagnussat GC, Sundaresan V. (2015) Auxin Import and Local Auxin Biosynthesis Are Required for Mitotic Divisions, Cell Expansion and Cell Specification during Female Gametophyte Development in Arabidopsis thaliana. PLoS One. 10:e0126164.

The primary interest of Ranjan Swarup’s group at the University of Nottingham is in hormone signalling and root development yet he is included as a collaborator in this publication led from UC-Davies that focusses on auxin signalling during female gametophyte development. The paper shows that the YUCCA family of the auxin biosynthetic genes are asymmetrically expressed during embryo sac development and that the AUX1 and LAX1 auxin influx carriers are expressed only at both the micropylar pole of the embryo sac and in adjacent cells of the ovule. In addition aux1lax1lax2 triple mutants show numerous gametophytic developmental defects.  Given the importance of auxin in most aspects of plant development, this paper highlights the specific manner in which auxin is required for mitotic divisions, cell expansion and patterning during embryo sac development.

 

Zheng L, Shang L, Chen X, Zhang L, Xia Y, Smith C, Bevan MW, Li Y, Jing HC (2015) TANG, Encoding a Symplekin_C Domain-contained Protein, Influences Sugar Responses in Arabidopsis Plant Physiol [Epub]

Mike Bevan at the JIC is a collaborator on this Chinese driven project that investigates Arabidopsis tang1 mutants. These plants are hypersensitive to sugar amd following a classic map-based cloning approach, the TANG1 gene was found to encode a novel protein with a predicted Symplekin tight junction protein C-terminal. As TANG1 is ubquitiously expressed and has little effect on known sugar signalling pathways, the precise in vivo role of the protein remains somewhat opaque even though it is clearly an important player in the response to sugar in Arabidopsis.

Great British Success in ERA-CAPS

The ERA-CAPS funding call was a major EU initiative that was focused on plant sciences. Recently the second set of successfully funded projects were announced, even though the funding levels have not been confirmed. Amongst these twelve successful bids, eight feature UK plant scientists (including four from the JIC). These successful projects are highlighted below:
logo-era-caps
Project Name: DesignStarch, Designing starch: harnessing carbohydrate polymer synthesis in plants

The UK representative Rob Field is a biochemist based at the John Innes Centre. The objective of this project is to ‘gain a profound understanding of the regulation and control of the biophysical and biochemical processes involved in the formation of the complex polymeric structure that is the starch granule’, which will involve in vitro analysis of the enzymology of starch formation with the ultimate aim of transferring their findings back into plants.

EfectaWheat: An Effector- and Genomics-Assisted Pipeline for Necrotrophic Pathogen Resistance Breeding in Wheat

James Cockram (NIAB) is the project leader on this grant that proposes to investigate the economically important wheat leaf spot group (LSG) of necrotrophic pathogens. The project will use a range of techniques such as high-density genotyping, pathogen re-sequencing and advanced virulence diagnosis to deliver a genomics- and effector-based pipeline for the genetic dissection of LSG host-pathogen interactions across Europe.

EVOREPRO: Evolution of Sexual Reproduction in Plants

Both David Twell (Leicester) and Jose Gutierrez-Marcos (Warwick) are included in this seven-group consortium that aims to investigate the origin of the mechanisms that predate double fertilization in plants. The project will take a comparative gene expression-based approach to investigate gametogenesis across Marchantia, Physcomitrella, Amborella, Arabidopsis and a range of crop species. The expected findings will allow the identification of specific mechanisms that are targeted by environmental stresses during sexual reproduction in crops and will assist in the selection of stress-resistant cultivars.

INTREPID: Investigating Triticeae Epigenomes for Domestication

GARNet advisory board member Anthony Hall (Liverpool) leads this group which includes long time collaborator Mike Bevan (JIC). This project will look at variations in the epigenome across eight diverse wheat lines with the aim of determined how epigenetic marks are re-set and stabilized during the formation of new wheat hybrids and how they might influence gene expression.

MAQBAT: Mechanistic Analysis of Quantitative Disease Resistance in Brassicas by Associative Transcriptomics

John Innes Centre scientist Chris Ridout leads this six PI consortium that will look at pathogen resistance in Brassica napus, where diseases are a major limiting factor in growth success. Almost 200 lines of B.napus will be screened against a range of specific and general pathogens in the aim of discovering important disease resistance loci. One proposed aspect of the work will look at the role of glucosinolates in both disease resistace and seed quality. The project also includes UK B.napus expert Bruce Fitt (Hertfordshore).

PHYTOCAL: Phytochrome Control of Resource Allocation and Growth in Arabidopsis and in Brassicaceae crops

Karen Halliday (Edinburgh) leads this three-PI group that will investigate the link between phytochrome signaling and resource allocation in both Arabidopsis and B.rapa. One aim of the project will be to build models that predict the dual action of phytochrome and photosynthesis on resource management and biomass production.

RegulaTomE: Regulating Tomato quality through Expression

Cathie Martin (JIB) leads this largest successful consortium of 8 labs that aim to link transcriptional regulation of metabolic pathways with tomato quality. Loci contributing to abiotic stress tolerance will also be identified toward the combined goals of obtaining more nutritious, stable and sustainable crops. The project will lead to regulatory gene identification (an important advance in terms of fundamental understanding), and provide new tools for metabolic engineering of fruit quality.

SOURSI: Simultaneous manipulation of source and sink metabolism for improved crop yield

Lee Sweetlove (Oxford) leads this group that aims to understand the linkages between source and sink tissues in the assimilation of carbon and nitrogen. The project claims to implement a metabolic engineering strategy of unprecedented scale in plants exploiting the new technique of biolistic combinatorial co-transformation.

A few funding opportunities for UK plant scientists

Here are the details of a few funding opportunities we have recently came across for early career and more established researchers – some of the deadlines are quite soon so if you’re interested, be quick!

Royal Society Research Grants

The Royal Society invites applications for its research grants. These provide seed-corn funding for early-career UK scientists for research within the society’s remit in the natural sciences, including the history of science. The aim is to increase the availability of specialised equipment and consumables for high quality research, and to enable scientists to further develop their new projects by obtaining funding from other sources.

Applicants should have a PhD or equivalent status, be working as independent researchers within five years of their first academic position and be resident in the UK. Non-tenured researchers and retired scientists may apply if the application is related to the history of science and the applicant works in association with an eligible institution. Eligible organisations are UK universities and non-profit research organisations, including institutes funded by the UK Research Councils.

Two types of grants are available for a maximum period of 12 months: grants of up to £15,000 for specialised equipment, essential consumable materials and services, and travel and subsistence for essential field research; and grants of up to £5,000 for the publication of scholarly works on the history of science.

Deadline: 26th May 2015

 

BBSRC Future Leader Fellowship

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Food Standards Agency invite applications for their future leader fellowship. This enables early-career researchers to undertake independent research on any area within biotechnology and biological sciences, and to gain leadership skills.

Applications that align with the following strategic priorities are particularly welcome:

  • animal health;
  • bioenergy – generating new replacement fuels for a greener, sustainable future;
  • combating antimicrobial resistance;
  • data driven biology;
  • food, nutrition and health;
  • healthy ageing across the lifecourse;
  • new strategic approaches to industrial biotechnology;
  • reducing waste in the food chain;
  • replacement, refinement and reduction in research using animals;
  • sustainably enhancing agricultural production;
  • synthetic biology;
  • systems approaches to the biosciences;
  • technology development for the biosciences;
  • welfare of managed animals.

In addition, the FSA will co-fund proposals that have the potential to impact on issues highlighted in its emerging strategy 2015–2020 and underpinning science, evidence and information strategy. A particular interest is for proposals that aim to realise the potential of utilising big data approaches to address complex issues that will ultimately lead to benefits for consumers. Fellows whose proposals are co-funded by the FSA may undertake a short term placement with the agency.

Applicants should have a PhD, or be expecting to have passed their viva prior to 30 November 2015. They should have no more than five years’ postdoctoral research employment by this point.

Approximately 12 fellowships are available. Each fellowship is worth up to £250,000 over a period of three years. Awards include personal salary as well as support for travel and subsistence, training activities and research consumables.

Deadline: 4th June 2015

 

Rank Prize Nutrition Fund New Lecturer Award

The Rank Prize Funds’ nutrition committee invites applications for its new lecturer awards. These support scientists who are conducting research in an area of human nutrition or crop science in order to further their careers.

Newly-appointed lecturers, researchers of equivalent status who are based in research institutes, or fellows with their own independent support who are working in a UK institution, may apply. The post must have been started at the earliest in 2013, and applicants should normally be three to nine years from their PhD. Postdoctoral scientists supported on a senior investigator’s funding are not eligible.

Awards are worth up to £20,000 each for a period of up to two years. Funding may be used for consumables, equipment or a contribution towards a salary or student support.

Deadline: 28 August 2015

iPlant is coming to the UK

Back in 2013, the GARNet team brought the iPlant Collaborative over to the UK to run a four-day workshop. Now, we’ve secured funding to bring iPlant to the UK again – but this time, it’s here to stay!

During 2014, the GARNet team and committee – together with iPlant collaborators in the US – were busy preparing a grant application for an invited BBSRC capital funding call. Our proposal was to work with iPlant to develop a ‘node’ of iPlant here in the UK. Our application was sucessful and the award was announced at the end of January at the AAAS 2015 meeting.

What is iPlant?

Funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) the iPlant Collaborative provides free and open access to ‘cyberinfrastructure’, originally just for plant scientists, but now for all the life sciences. Here’s a short video clip to explain more:

Harnessing the power of some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, iPlant users can access the cloud-based Data Store, which provides very large amounts of space for researchers to store, and quickly transfer and share ‘big data’ files.

iPlant users also have access to the Discovery Environment – a web-based, graphical interface that provides access to an ever-expanding suite of modular, integrated ‘apps’ for data analysis. Apps can be built either by the iPlant team or by more experienced users, and cover a wide range of analysis needs. They are user-friendly and very intuitive, meaning that even researchers with little or no knowledge of command line computer programming can easily run an app, or create a pipeline of apps, to analyse large and complex data files.

Why do we need iPlant UK?

iPlant, which is free for anyone around the world to use, is currently distributed across three locations in the US – the Texas Advanced Computing Center, the University of Arizona and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Though the high performance computing power it utilises is currently sufficient, iPlant was designed to be extendable to spread resources between even greater numbers of ‘nodes’. iPlant UK will be the first – hopefully of many – international iPlant hubs to ensure the future sustainability of the resource on a global scale.

As we noted in our recent Journal of Experimental Botany paper, one of the drawbacks of having iPlant located solely in the US, is that technical user support is only currently available during US office hours. When we hosted our workshop at the University of Warwick in September 2013, iPlant’s US-based support engineers kindly agreed to be woken up if we needed them – and we did! Clearly that’s not an ideal solution going forwards, especially as the number of worldwide users grows and grows.

As well as having access to technical support on the GMT timezone, the project’s collaborators at the Universities of Warwick, Liverpool, Nottingham and at The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), aim to convert existing BBSRC-funded software tools for the iPlant environment. This will increase community access to these useful resources, and their uptake, giving the plant science community even greater opportunities for efficient, effective, collaborative research.

How will it work?

iPlant UK will run as an independent, UK-hosted iPlant node that will centralise compute power and data storage to a single site at TGAC.

The team at TGAC, managed by Dr Tim Stitt and Dr Rob Davey, will work together to install and maintain new and existing hardware infrastructure at TGAC, and once that phase is complete, they will start work to establish and launch the iPlant UK node.

Meanwhile, teams at the Universities of Warwick, Nottingham and Liverpool will convert software tools they have created from their existing formats to the iPlant environment.

  1. University of Liverpool: Next generation sequencing workflows (led by Professor Anthony Hall). Working with the wheat community, the team at Liverpool will optimise a wheat genetic tool bench for next generation sequencing, and a pipeline for mapping-by-sequencing.
  2. University of Warwick: Gene expression, networks and promoter motif tools and pipelines (led by Professor Jim Beynon). The Warwick team will port tools from the PRESTA project into the iPlant environment. These tools include those for identifying differential gene expressions, clustering and network inference, and promoter analysis.
  3. University of Nottingham: Image-based phenotyping (led by Professor Tony Pridmore, Centre for Plant Integrative Biology). The team at Nottingham will convert a range of popular tools for visualising root phenotypes, so that they can be accessed and used from the iPlant environment.

If you are interested in getting involved with this project, two posts at TGAC are currently being advertised (but hurry, the closing date is tomorrow, 3rd March!)

Opportunities at Warwick and Nottingham will be announced soon so stay tuned for updates!

Funding and networking opportunities from BBSRC plant science NIBBS

Categories: funding
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Published on: December 9, 2014

Early this year, BBSRC announced 13 new Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBBS). Their aim is to foster collaborations between the academic research base and industry in order to drive new ideas in specific areas of focus. Four NIBBS have plant science themes:

•   A Network of Integrated Technologies: Plants to Products: http://www.nibbp2p.org/

•   High Value Chemicals from Plants Network: https://hvcfp.net/

•   Lignocellulosic Biorefinery Network (LBNet): http://lb-net.net/

•   PHYCONET: unlocking the IB potential of microalgae: http://www.phyconet.org.uk/

Each BBSRC NIBB organises free residential networking events and awards funding in the form of Business Interaction Vouchers and Proof-of-Concept funds. You need to be a member of the NIBB to access any of these resources, but they are all free to join.

Business Interaction Vouchers are worth up to £5000 and are intended to support research done by an academic partner for an industrial partner of the NIBB. Depending on the NIBB, there are deadlines throughout the year or applications are accepted at any time.

Proof-of-concept funds are more flexible in scope and amount awarded, but have stricter deadlines. Each NIBB is dealing with their awards differently: The HvCFP deadline is 19 January 2015; and the LB-Net has organised Challenge Workshops in 2015, which will lead to funding for multi-disciplinary teams formed at the workshops. The other networks do not currently have proof-of-concept calls open.

Jackie Hunter, BBSRC: “Breakthroughs will happen where disciplines coalesce”

Categories: funding, synthetic biology
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Published on: November 12, 2014

Jackie Hunter, Chief Executive of BBSRC, delivered a lunchtime presentation at the University of Warwick’s School of Life Sciences on Monday this week. She gave an overview of BBSRC investments and strategy, and spent the final twenty minutes in discussion with the gathered researchers, who posed questions from the floor.

Supporting bioscience in the UK

BBSRC is the biggest source of plant science funding in the UK. Its charter is to fund research and training in world-class bioscience, deliver social and economic impact, and to promote public dialogue.

Hunter explained that BBSRC responsive mode funding (around £150m per year) aims “to ensure excellence in science, wherever it comes from.” It must be functioning well as the UK is top of citation impact index, and the UKPSF found that UK plant science, mainly funded by BBSRC, is second only to the US in terms of publication impact. Strategic funding, capital and campus capital funding to institutes (£6m, £73m and £30m respectively) is used to maintain skills and output in economically important areas of research at the institutes; though Hunter made it clear that ‘blue sky’ research, funded via responsive mode, is important for impact as it generates both top REF scores and top impact metrics. BBSRC also invests £29M per year in specific initiatives.

When asked for advice about increasing BBSRC funding to the department, Hunter emphasised that funding allocation is based on excellence, so departments should provide an environment where excellence can flourish. She also said, “Interdisciplinarity is important: breakthroughs will happen where disciplines coalesce.”

Training and skills

There are around 2000 PhD students at any one time in the Doctoral Training Partnerships that make up part of the £71M BBSRC investment in Knowledge Exchange, Training and Skills. During the discussion session, someone asked about support later in a researcher’s career and Hunter pointed out that investment in early career fellowships must come at the expense of something else. She suggested that BBSRC may consider the value of studentships versus early career fellowships carefully, and in consultation with the community, over the next few years.

Plant science and Agriculture

Jackie Hunter is on the Agri-tech Leadership Council, which aims to increase UK agricultural exports and the value of the UK agri-tech industry by aligning public and industry funding and building skills and research output in agriculture and agri-technology. She also spoke about future directions in BBSRC’s Agriculture and Food theme: improving the nutritional qualities of plants and biopesticides regulation are both likely to become priority areas of research.

Hunter trailed two documents intended to help make two arguments, both of value to the UK plant research community. The first is an upcoming review on animal and plant health, lead by Defra and with input from BBSRC. To be launched later this month, it will be a starting point for BBSRC and Defra to develop joint strategies in tackling current animal and plant health issues, and to work together to call for more funding in this area. The second is a discussion document about synthetic biology and other new ways of working; Hunter hopes this will help make the case for trait-based, rather than methods-based, regulation of new crops.

On-going activities

Hunter also highlighted a few current initiatives our readers might be interested in.

BBSRC has invested £18m in 13 Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBBs). Here at GARNet, we’re in touch with the High Value Chemicals from Plants Network about a synthetic biology event next year and I recommend you join (it’s free) if you’re interested in high-value plant products or synthetic biology. The other plant science network is the Lignocellulosic Biorefinery Network.

One of Hunter’s objectives as CEO is to promote dialogue between scientists and a broad audience, and the first step towards engaging with the general public is the Great British Bioscience Festival. It is taking place this Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Bethnal Green, London, and there will be some amazing plant science among the exhibits. Lisa will be visiting the Festival to cover it for the next issue of the GARNish newsletter so stay tuned for her report!

Investment in plant science training

Categories: funding
Comments: No Comments
Published on: October 7, 2014

The planet needs more plant scientists.

As a headline in The Scientist last week, this statement was unambiguously qualified by its ‘Opinion’ prefix. But for the UK plant sciences community it is a dangerous fact: the skills gaps in plant and agricultural sciences expertise and very limited plant science content on undergraduate courses were highlighted in the UKPSF report on the status of UK plant science.

The news that some 375 students will receive PhD training in agriculture and food security over the next five years is therefore very welcome. On Friday, Vince Cable announced the locations of 12 new Doctoral Training Partnerships, funded by a £125 million investment from BBSRC. 1250 PhD students will be trained, of which 30% (375) will be trained specifically in agricultural and food security science, 20% (250) will focus on industrial biotechnology and bioenergy, and 40% (500) on world-class ‘frontier’ bioscience – all areas in which plant science plays a key role. The remaining 10% (125) of students will work within BBSRC’s ‘Bioscience for Health’ theme.

We at GARNet are looking forward to seeing the impacts on plant science, from food security and bioenergy to the as yet unknown, that will come from the hundreds of plant scientists starting their training and careers in the next few years. As every student in the centres will have to do a funded three-month internship working in a different area from their PhD project, it will also be interesting to see how this impact spreads into areas like policy, funding and government over time.

Congratulations to all the organisations involved in the new Centres, lead by Imperial College London, the John Innes Centre, Newcastle University, University College London (not plant science), the University of Bristol, the University of Cambridge, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Leeds, the University of Manchester, the University of Nottingham, the University of Oxford and the University of Warwick.

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