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
Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
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Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
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Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
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