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GENT, Belgium

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2010-ITN | Award Amount: 3.39M | Year: 2011

Plant cell walls constitute a highly complex and dynamic entity of extreme importance in plant growth and development. Growing cell walls can be considered as fibre composites, where cellulose microfibrils are embedded in a matrix of complex glycans. It is becoming increasingly apparent (i) that cell wall glycans are diverse in structural terms, (ii) that these structures are developmentally regulated, and (iii) that not all cell walls in an organ are comprised of the same configurations of glycans. The architecture of plant cell walls is governed by the fine structure of their constitutive polymers, this fine structure having profound effects on polymers functional properties after extraction or in planta. The immense complexity and spatial & temporal versatility of cell wall glycans render a full understanding of their structure-function relationships extremely challenging for plant biology research and for the uses of cell wall-derived materials in industrial contexts. WallTraC has thereby two major interlinked strategic objectives: (i) To develop new molecular tools & techniques for the analysis of plant cell walls & their component polymers - mainly pectin and cellulose - with direct applicability to industrial end-users in the functional food ingredients & plant fibre sectors; (ii) To provide high quality, inter-sectorial & trans-disciplinary training in plant cell wall analysis & complementary skills with the aim of enabling young scientists to respond to future demands in both academic and private sectors thereby securing the future EU expertise base. The WallTraC consortium gathers leading researchers on plant cell walls from the private sector, universities & research centres and will provide world-class infrastructures for research & training. This network of scientists, from distinct but complementary disciplines, will collectively allow the dissection of plant cell wall structures as a prelude to their industrial exploitation.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2010-ITN | Award Amount: 2.88M | Year: 2011

Plants continually monitor the environment to modify physiology and development at the molecular level to ensure maximal fitness. Central in the signaling network is the SnRK1 kinases (homologous to AMPK and SNF1 in mammals and yeast respectively). These kinases are vital to the energy balance of the organism and regulate primary metabolism by controlling transcription factors, which control the expression of genes encoding key enzymes. SnRK1 signaling and reprogrammed metabolism have turned out to be crucial for establishments of tolerance and sustained growth during stress. This proposal suggests a multilevel approach to signaling in which all levels of the signal transduction pathway are addressed. The proposal is truly interdisciplinary and a wide range of methodology will be deployed ranging from classical physiology to state-of-the-art mass spectrometry based protein and metabolite profiling, massive sequencing of immuno-precipitated chromatin and whole genome expression profiling. This will be further supported by bioinformatic approaches, phylogenetical as well as network based. The aim is to understand the mechanisms regulating energy balance in plants and their impact on plant performance under stress. Improved stress tolerance of plants is of strategic importance in a world with rising population and changing climate. This strategic importance as well as future recruitment possibilities motivates the high involvement of industrial partners in the proposed activities. The proposed training activities will coach future top-performers for professional career in the biotech industry as well as in the academia. The training program includes network-wide workshops (methodology, industry relevant skills and more) as well as structured local training in the host institutions. Important is a rich schedule of secondments in witch the young researchers will learn new technologies, widen their scientific horizons and establish their academic networks.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: PEOPLE-2007-1-1-ITN | Award Amount: 2.84M | Year: 2008

COSI integrates young researchers in a network of 10 leading European research centres, including Bayer BioScience as industrial partner. We aim at identification of regulatory principles governing chloroplast metabolism, a crucial factor for agricultural productivity. Specifically we want to identify chloroplast-related protein kinases and their targets and associated calcium signals. A long term objective of COSI is increased plant productivity under stress conditions. COSI has expertise in various aspects of photosynthesis in algae and higher plants and in plant signal transduction. This unique combination will be used to identify major regulatory principles of plant organellar metabolism principally also applying far beyond the plant field. Thus training and knowledge can be transferred to many other fields in life sciences. An integrated working programme consisting of working packages, jointly coordinated by two groups of the network, guarantees maximal use of complementary expertises and strengthens ongoing interactions between partners. In addition to intensive exchange and collaboration of the involved young researchers, special training courses will introduce the young researchers in basic methods, which are required for their work and furthermore help them to develop complementary skills. Early stage researchers will be supported by a mentoring programme to enhance their personnel development. Special emphasis will be placed on promotion of women. A training course at Bayer BioScience will expose young researchers to an industrial environment and provide them with industrial relevant skills. COSI will offer hands-on training in cutting-edge technologies such as bioinformatics, live-cell imaging, mass spectrometry and metabolomics and establish an outstanding European research community in organellar signal transduction, an emerging new and competitive research field of central importance in life sciences.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2007-3-1-03 | Award Amount: 11.21M | Year: 2008

Replacing fossil oil with renewable resources is perhaps the most urgent need and the most challenging task that human society faces today. Cracking fossil hydrocarbons and building the desired chemicals with advanced organic chemistry usually requires many times more energy than is contained in the final product. Thus, using plant material in the chemical industry does not only replace the fossil material contained in the final product but also save substantial energy in the processing. Of particular interest are seed oils which show a great variation in their composition between different plant species. Many of the oil qualities found in wild species would be very attractive for the chemical industry if they could be obtained at moderate costs in bulk quantities and with a secure supply. Genetic engineering of vegetable oil qualities in high yielding oil crops could in a relatively short time frame yield such products. This project aims at developing such added value oils in dedicated industrial oil crops mainly in form of various wax esters particularly suited for lubrication. This project brings together the most prominent scientists in plant lipid biotechnology in an unprecedented world-wide effort in order to produce added value oils in industrial oil crops within the time frame of four years as well as develop a tool box of genes und understanding of lipid cellular metabolism in order for rational designing of vast array of industrial oil qualities in oil crops. Since GM technologies that will be used in the project are met with great scepticism in Europe it is crucial that ideas, expectations and results are communicated to the public and that methods, ethics, risks and risk assessment are open for debate. The keywords of our communication strategies will be openness and an understanding of public concerns.

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