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Kell D.B.,University of Manchester | Kell D.B.,Biotechnology and Biological science Research Council
BioEssays | Year: 2012

A considerable number of areas of bioscience, including gene and drug discovery, metabolic engineering for the biotechnological improvement of organisms, and the processes of natural and directed evolution, are best viewed in terms of a 'landscape' representing a large search space of possible solutions or experiments populated by a considerably smaller number of actual solutions that then emerge. This is what makes these problems 'hard', but as such these are to be seen as combinatorial optimisation problems that are best attacked by heuristic methods known from that field. Such landscapes, which may also represent or include multiple objectives, are effectively modelled in silico, with modern active learning algorithms such as those based on Darwinian evolution providing guidance, using existing knowledge, as to what is the 'best' experiment to do next. An awareness, and the application, of these methods can thereby enhance the scientific discovery process considerably. This analysis fits comfortably with an emerging epistemology that sees scientific reasoning, the search for solutions, and scientific discovery as Bayesian processes. © 2012 WILEY Periodicals, Inc.

Kell D.B.,University of Manchester | Kell D.B.,Biotechnology and Biological science Research Council
Annals of Botany | Year: 2011

•Background: The soil represents a reservoir that contains at least twice as much carbon as does the atmosphere, yet (apart from 'root crops') mainly just the above-ground plant biomass is harvested in agriculture, and plant photosynthesis represents the effective origin of the overwhelming bulk of soil carbon. However, present estimates of the carbon sequestration potential of soils are based more on what is happening now than what might be changed by active agricultural intervention, and tend to concentrate only on the first metre of soil depth. •Scope: Breeding crop plants with deeper and bushy root ecosystems could simultaneously improve both the soil structure and its steady-state carbon, water and nutrient retention, as well as sustainable plant yields. The carbon that can be sequestered in the steady state by increasing the rooting depths of crop plants and grasses from, say, 1 m to 2 m depends significantly on its lifetime(s) in different molecular forms in the soil, but calculations (http://dbkgroup.org/carbonsequestration/rootsystem.html) suggest that this breeding strategy could have a hugely beneficial effect in stabilizing atmospheric CO 2. This sets an important research agenda, and the breeding of plants with improved and deep rooting habits and architectures is a goal well worth pursuing. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company. All rights reserved.

Kell D.B.,University of Manchester | Kell D.B.,Biotechnology and Biological science Research Council
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2012

The soil holds twice as much carbon as does the atmosphere, and most soil carbon is derived from recent photosynthesis that takes carbon into root structures and further into below-ground storage via exudates therefrom. Nonetheless, many natural and most agricultural crops have roots that extend only to about 1 m below ground. What determines the lifetime of below-ground C in various forms is not well understood, and understanding these processes is therefore key to optimising them for enhanced C sequestration. Most soils (and especially subsoils) are very far from being saturated with organic carbon, and calculations show that the amounts of C that might further be sequestered (http://dbkgroup.org/carbonsequestration/rootsystem.html) are actually very great. Breeding crops with desirable below-ground C sequestration traits, and exploiting attendant agronomic practices optimised for individual species in their relevant environments, are therefore important goals. These bring additional benefits related to improvements in soil structure and in the usage of other nutrients and water. © 2012 The Royal Society.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-ERA-Plus | Phase: ENERGY.2013.10.1.1 | Award Amount: 24.34M | Year: 2013

This ERA-NET_Plus Coordination and Support Action, BESTF, will bring together a number of national and transnational initiatives in the field of bioenergy. It follows on from the first BESTF call that launched in January 2013 and, like its predecessor, aims to kick-start large scale investment in close-to-market implementation of bioenergy thereby helping to achieve the key objectives of the European Industrial Bioenergy Initiative (EIBI) Implementation Plan. This project is aligned to the wider strategic European requirement to increase the security and sustainability of energy supply. The key objectives of this second BESTF initiative are: 1.To implement a single collaborative funding call that will support projects focused on the generation of bioenergy. 2.To maintain and enhance coherence and networking between national bioenergy programmes across the EU. 3.To further the demonstration of enhanced bioenergy technologies in order to help develop robust project plans for a range of demonstrator and flagship plants, that will help Europe to make progress towards achieving its 2016 and 2020 energy targets. 4.To disseminate knowledge gained from the programme and individual projects across the EU. The BESTF programme will support bioenergy demonstration projects that: Address one or more of the seven EIBI bioenergy value chains detailed above. Provide an innovative process or step within the value chain (see detail below). Are at an appropriate stage of development (see detail on TRLs below), and will move into demonstration phase within the timeframe of the programme. Are industry-led and will enable confidence to be confirmed in commercial scale application.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: ISIB-11-2014 | Award Amount: 3.35M | Year: 2015

The Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI), launched in October 2010 by the European Council, brings together 21 countries committed to building an integrated European Research Area addressing the challenges of agriculture, food security and climate change (FACCE-JPI Strategic Research Agenda). The JPI aims at aligning research programming among its members in the long run, so as to increase the efficiency of research funding, cover gaps, avoid duplications and provide high-level innovative research on the European scene. The FACCE-Evolve Coordination and Support Action is designed to solidify foundations that will ensure long-term durability of joint programming and actions. FACCE-Evolve will thus continue to support the successful development of the FACCE-JPI and allow it to develop a set of means destined to ensure its self-sustainability. The FACCE-Evolve will therefore provide support to JPI members in order to: Investigate different options for self-sustainability and test the most suitable ones. Investigate and develop novel processes and tools to support uptake of the SRA and its updates as well as the bi-annual implementation plans and monitor effective harmonisation, integration and alignment of national research programming, to enable evidence-based policy making and effective cross-policy actions Implement and oversee the increasing number of joint actions Pursue ongoing coordination with Horizon 2020 objectives with a scale and scope of action that should go well beyond what either the EU or Member States can achieve on their own Ensure the perpetuation of an effective, enriching dialogue with European and international stakeholders Strengthen the international dimension and visibility of the JPI through a strong communication and dissemination strategy and links with other initiatives.

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