At a time when the world is facing a growing global population and environmental change the project will be important to ensure the sustainability of wheat production in the UK and beyond.
To meet this challenge the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has brought together a consortium of the UK’s leading scientists in wheat genetics and trait analysis to underpin and enhance wheat breeding activities here in the UK and internationally. The foundation of the programme is based upon three areas of research to generate new diverse genetic variation.
Experts in the School of Biosciences will form part of this nationwide consortium involving the John Innes Centre, the University of Bristol, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) and Rothamsted Research.
Wheat breeders in the UK and throughout the world are working on new varieties that can meet the challenges of food production in the 21stt century. However, due to modern breeding practises there is not sufficient genetic variation in modern wheat varieties to obtain the increases in yield required to meet demand, climate change or environmental requirements - such as heat and drought tolerance, water use efficiency and nutrient use efficiency. The introduction of new genetic variation into wheat, for breeders to exploit, is therefore of critical importance for global food production.
Ian King, Professor of Cereal Genomics in the Department of Plant and Crop Sciences, said: “The world’s population is set to increase from seven to nine billion by 2040 to 2050 and it is predicted that we will have to produce 70 per cent more food than we do at present - just to maintain our present level of nutrition - which already includes one billion malnourished people and a further 100 million at near starvation level.
“Eleven per cent of the earth’s surface is presently used for crop production, with a further 22 per cent used for grazing animals. Of the remainder of the earth’s surface only an additional 10 per cent is suitable for relatively low levels of production. Thus the increase in food production needs to be generated from the same amount of land area that we already farm. One way for this to be achieved is through the production of new high yielding plant varieties that are adapted to global warming and environmentally friendly farming practises that result in less pollution (e.g. reduced fertiliser input).”
Six hundred million tonnes of wheat is produced every year – it is second only to rice in total tonnage used for food in the world. Wheat breeders require genetic variations for target traits, such as resistance to disease to develop new superior high yielding adapted wheat varieties.
One of these areas of research is being led by the husband and wife team of Professor Ian and Dr Julie King. Professor and Dr King are world leaders in transferring genetic variation and diversity into crop species from their distant relatives. Their main emphasis will be in transferring variation into wheat from a large number of its distant relatives including species such as cultivated rye and Thinopyrum bessarabicum, a species which grows in sand dunes and is highly salt tolerant. The wild relatives of wheat are of particular importance as they provide a vast and largely untapped source of genetic variation for most if not all agronomically important traits.
Dr John Foulkes, Associate Professor of Crop Science in the Department of Plant and Crop Sciences, and an expert in the physiological and genetic analysis of yield potential and resource-use efficiency traits in wheat and Dr Erik Murchie, a lecturer in crop physiology, will be looking at biomass production and nutrient use efficiency - how to increase biomass productivity and the amount of grain yield that plants produce for each kilo of nutrient available to the plant.
Dr Foulkes said: “In collaboration with colleagues at Rothamsted Research, our research will screen a wide range of novel wheat genetic resources developed within the Consortium in field experiments to identify lines with enhanced biomass and provide understanding of the biological basis of the key traits underlying genetic variation in biomass, e.g. light interception and photosynthetic efficiency. High wheat yields are currently dependent on large inputs of fertilizer nitrogen, which is expensive, and contributes greenhouse gas emissions associated with global warming impact. Developing wheat lines which give high yields with reduced nitrogen fertilizer inputs is therefore a priority.”
The consortium will also be working with collaborators throughout the world in India, Australia, the US, France and Mexico.
Dr Celia Caulcott, Director of Innovation and Skills, BBSRC said: “We are delighted that this group of researchers has considered at the earliest point how to ensure that opportunities are immediately taken to translate their work into products that have both social and economic impact in the UK. Having the lines of communication firmly established at this stage offers a great vehicle for exchange of knowledge, ideas and technology as this project progresses.”
The University of Nottingham has a broad research portfolio but has also identified and badged 13 research priority groups in which a concentration of expertise, collaboration and resources create significant critical mass.
Key research areas at Nottingham include energy, drug discovery, global food security, biomedical imaging, advanced manufacturing, integrating global society, operations in a digital world, and science, technology & society. Through these groups, Nottingham researchers will continue to make a major impact on global challenges.
Lindsay Brooke | alfa
Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences