The BIO ISP aims to enhance yields of the major UK crops wheat, Brassicas and potatoes by reducing yield losses caused by pests, pathogens and poor nutrition.
However, the fundamental understandings of plant-biotic interactions assimilated through BIO will have broader impacts on plant sciences as a whole and thus will have wider social and economic ramifications beyond UK crop species. We will impact farmers and consumers by working alongside plant breeding companies and biotechnology companies who have the capability to translate the science into varieties for farmers.
An important component of our impact activity is our interaction with international partners. These international links with further strengthen the impact of our science, ensuring application in both UK and non-UK crop species.
In addition to these translational activities we will impact society through a combination of training, communicating our science to the general public and influencing policy through advice to policy makers. We have significant new activities in our training programmes that will coalesce during the period of BIO to provide important new training vehicles for all levels from high school to junior faculty and industrial scientists.
To learn more about the wider impact of JIC, and our integrated strategy on Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation, visit
Fusarium head blight (FHB) of cereals reduces yield and contaminates grain with harmful mycotoxins. Identifying and characterising resistance to FHB is particularly difficult because of interactions with the environment and trade-off between resistance and agronomically important traits such as plant height. BIO scientists have identified novel FHB resistances in wheat and barley and are characterising these to ensure that yield is not compromised. They are seeking to clone these genes to understand how resistance functions and they are also developing molecular markers to these resistances to assist plant breeders in incorporating them into new varieties.
The ENSA project is led by Prof Giles Oldroyd at JIC and is an internationally collaborative project between UK, USA, Denmark and France funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This programme builds on our knowledge of how peas form a nitrogen-fixing symbiosis to explore the ambitious goal of transferring this capability to cereals, as an environmentally-sustainable approach for small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to increase maize yields.
Chalara-induced ash dieback is causing severe disease on more than 90% of European ash trees. Nornex is a network of scientists from eleven research institutions aiming to make tools to help understand how to deal with ash dieback, caused by Chalara fraxinea (Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus). One of the aims of Nornex is to understand the ash genome, in particular the genes that lie behind variation in susceptibility to ash dieback between different trees. All data generated by Nornex is released immediately to the public to maximize its exploitation in combatting the disease.