Ireland’s scientific researchers are punching above their weight on the world stage and are quietly making a significant contribution to the improvement of our daily lives. This TV series will look at some of the most interesting research projects that are currently underway and assess the impact they may have in the future.
A diverse range of projects are examined ranging from the identification of a protein that may help to arrest and even reverse the onset of Alzheimer’s disease to the design of a camera that can picture an event in space that happened billions of years ago.
Crops of the future
On November 13, Teagasc researchers feature in an episode on ‘Crops of the Future’. Ireland’s agricultural economy is changing. Where once Irish crops were used almost exclusively for food, fuel and animal feed, there is now an array of new possibilities. New technologies and dedicated research into new areas has opened up new horizons for crop growers in areas such as human health. In the United Nations’ ‘International Year of the Potato’ it is appropriate that developments in genetic mapping will allow Irish researchers to develop new breeds of blight-resistant potatoes, which are being exported all over the world. As our knowledge of the genomes of a large variety of crops increases so does the capacity for crops to play key roles in people’s health and the environment.
Denis Griffin is one of Ireland’s key potato breeders. Based at Teagasc’s Crops Research Centre in Oak Park, Carlow, his work involves a long and intricate process which begins with the identification of notable or desirable characteristics in potato breeds. Over a period of 10 to 12 years the team at Teagasc carefully crosses breeds, produces the initial seeds, grows thousands of seedlings and finally whittles them down to 1 or 2 plants which go on to become varieties. Checks for key positive and negative traits are done and the process begins once again.
In collaboration with Dan Milbourne, a plant geneticist also based at Oak Park, key traits in potatoes are identified in a much quicker way using information gained by the ongoing mapping of the potato genome. Working together they can identify key traits in the potato, both for the consumer in terms of taste and cooking styles, but also for farmers in terms of their natural resistance to certain airborne blights and pesticides.
Nigel Bunton & Eimear Gallagher are researchers working at the Teagasc Ashtown Food Research Centre. They are continually looking at new ways to improve the inherent nutritional value of our foods. Barley is one of Ireland’s most important crops and contains a compound known as beta glucan, which has important properties that can help to lower cholesterol and aid the immune system. Nigel Brunton’s research has found that in fact there are over four times the amount of this compound in the barley ends, which are normally thrown away. For Nigel and his team in Teagasc the challenge now is to find ways to incorporate this compound into breads that the public will want to buy.Pharming
Eric Donald | alfa
Light green plants save nitrogen without sacrificing photosynthetic efficiency
21.11.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Filling intercropping info gap
16.11.2017 | American Society of Agronomy
Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...
The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
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