About Building Robustness in Crops (BRiC)

Climate change is challenging crop production and our ability to produce enough high-quality food to feed a growing population. Most modern crop varieties have not been bred to produce reliably under variable or extreme climatic conditions.

The UK needs to produce more of our own protein.  We need to use less land to meet our biodiversity and carbon sequestration targets and exploit new opportunities in protected horticulture to reduce our reliance of vegetable imports and improve our health.

The aim of the Building Robustness in Crops (BRiC) ISP is to deliver genetic diversity and knowledge, innovative technologies and training to allow sustainable production of robust high-yielding crops.

Our research is focusing on oilseed rape, pea, cereals and Brassica vegetables and has been developed through consultation with industry to identify key problems and challenges for crop production.

We will use an interdisciplinary approach combining our research expertise in crop science, plant developmental biology, gene regulation, genomics and computational biology to develop new knowledge and resources to facilitate innovation in the agro-economy.

Example projects include:

  • Understanding how variation in the weather affects crop yields and developing new strategies for breeding new high yielding varieties resilient to temperature variation and drought.
  • Discover how genetic variation produces diverse Brassica vegetable forms and developing new varieties for protected horticulture.
  • Optimise a new generation of RNA structure-based therapies for plant viruses.
  • Create new breeding tools via Gene Editing and informing UK government policy on the release of Gene Edited crops.
  • Understanding why polyploidy (where an organism has more than two sets of chromosomes) is an advantage in plant evolution and crop breeding.