Newport, United Kingdom
Newport, United Kingdom

Harper Adams University is a university located close to the village of Edgmond , in Shropshire, England. It is the UK's leading specialist provider of higher education for the agri-food chain and rural sector. Wikipedia.


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Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 4.34M | Year: 2014

This world-leading Centre for Doctoral Training in Bioenergy will focus on delivering the people to realise the potential of biomass to provide secure, affordable and sustainable low carbon energy in the UK and internationally. Sustainably-sourced bioenergy has the potential to make a major contribution to low carbon pathways in the UK and globally, contributing to the UKs goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 and the international mitigation target of a maximum 2 degrees Celsius temperature rise. Bioenergy can make a significant contribution to all three energy sectors: electricity, heat and transport, but faces challenges concerning technical performance, cost effectiveness, ensuring that it is sustainably produced and does not adversely impact food security and biodiversity. Bioenergy can also contribute to social and economic development in developing countries, by providing access to modern energy services and creating job opportunities both directly and in the broader economy. Many of the challenges associated with realising the potential of bioenergy have engineering and physical sciences at their core, but transcend traditional discipline boundaries within and beyond engineering. This requires an effective whole systems research training response and given the depth and breadth of the bioenergy challenge, only a CDT will deliver the necessary level of integration. Thus, the graduates from the CDT in Bioenergy will be equipped with the tools and skills to make intelligent and informed, responsible choices about the implementation of bioenergy, and the growing range of social and economic concerns. There is projected to be a large absorptive capacity for trained individuals in bioenergy, far exceeding current supply. A recent report concerning UK job creation in bioenergy sectors concluded that there may be somewhere in the region of 35-50,000 UK jobs in bioenergy by 2020 (NNFCC report for DECC, 2012). This concerned job creation in electricity production, heat, and anaerobic digestion (AD) applications of biomass. The majority of jobs are expected to be technical, primarily in the engineering and construction sectors during the building and operation of new bioenergy facilities. To help develop and realise the potential of this sector, the CDT will build strategically on our research foundation to deliver world-class doctoral training, based around key areas: [1] Feedstocks, pre-processing and safety; [2] Conversion; [3] Utilisation, emissions and impact; [4] Sustainability and Whole systems. Theme 1 will link feedstocks to conversion options, and Themes 2 and 3 include the core underpinning science and engineering research, together with innovation and application. Theme 4 will underpin this with a thorough understanding of the whole energy system including sustainability, social, economic public and political issues, drawing on world-leading research centres at Leeds. The unique training provision proposed, together with the multidisciplinary supervisory team will ensure that students are equipped to become future leaders, and responsible innovators in the bioenergy sector.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: WASTE-7-2015 | Award Amount: 7.65M | Year: 2016

Continuing population and consumption growth are driving global food demand, with agricultural activity increasing to keep pace. Europe has a major agricultural waste problem, generating some 700 million tonnes of waste annually. There is an urgent need and huge opportunity to address the efficient use of agricultural wastes, co-products and by-products (AWCB) towards delivering sustainable value chains in the farming and processing sectors. As such, AgroCycle will convert low value agricultural waste into highly valuable products, achieving a 10% increase in waste recycling and valorisation by 2020. This will be achieved by developing a detailed and holistic understanding of the waste streams and piloting a key number of waste utilisation/valorisation pathways. It will bring technologies and systems from ~TRL4 to ~TRL7 within the 3 years of the project. A post-project commercialisation plan will bring commercially promising technologies/systems to TRL8 and TRL9, ensuring AgroCycle will have an enduring impact by achieving sustainable use of AWCB both inside and outside the agricultural sector, leading to the realisation of a Circular Economy. AgroCycle addresses wastes from several agricultural sectors: wine, olive oil, horticulture, fruit, grassland, swine, dairy and poultry. The AgroCycle consortium is a large (25) multi-national group (including China) comprising the necessary and relevant multi-actors (i.e. researchers; companies in the technical, manufacturing, advisory, retail sectors (Large and SMEs); lead users; end users; and trade/producer associations) for achieving the projects ambitions goals. Farmings unique regional (rural) location means that AgroCycle will help reduce the EUs Innovation Divide and address the Regional Smart Specialisation Strategies for each partner country: impact will be Regional with National and International dimensions. The presence of three partners from China ensures international synergies and a global impact.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-13-2015 | Award Amount: 5.24M | Year: 2016

MyToolBox mobilises a multi-actor partnership (academia, farmers, technology SMEs, food industry and policy stakeholders) to develop novel interventions aimed at achieving a 20-90% reduction in crop losses due to fungal and mycotoxin contamination. MyToolBox will not only pursue a field-to-fork approach but will also consider safe use options of contaminated batches, such as the efficient production of biofuels. A major component of MyToolBox, which also distinguishes this proposal from previous efforts in the area mycotoxin reduction, is to provide the recommended measures to the end users along the food and feed chain in a web-based Toolbox. Cutting edge research will result in new interventions, which will be integrated together with existing measures in the Toolbox that will guide the end user as to the most effective measure(s) to be taken to reduce crop losses. We will focus on small grain cereals, maize, peanuts and dried figs, applicable to agricultural conditions in EU and China. Crop losses using existing practices will be compared with crop losses after novel pre-harvest interventions including investigation of genetic resistance to fungal infection, cultural control, the use of novel biopesticides (organic-farming compliant), competitive biocontrol treatment and development of forecasting models to predict mycotoxin contamination. Research into post-harvest measures including real-time monitoring during storage, innovative sorting of crops using vision-technology and novel milling technology will enable cereals with higher mycotoxin levels to be processed without breaching regulatory limits in finished products. Research into the effects of baking on mycotoxin levels will provide better understanding of process factors used in mycotoxin risk assessment. Involvement of leading institutions from China are aimed at establishing a sustainable cooperation in mycotoxin research between the EU and China.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 136.56K | Year: 2015

This research proposal specifically targets Campylobacter infection of broiler chickens to demonstrate the utility of this sensor-based detection system in addressing a significant global meat production problem that impacts on animal health and welfare, and human health. Campylobacter jejuni, the most frequently reported food-borne pathogen associated with human illness in the UK, causes over 460,000 reported cases of campylobacteriosis annually, leading to over 22,000 hospitalisations and 100 deaths, at a cost to the UK government of over £900 million. While substantial research funding has been invested by the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) and other organisations across the farm to fork continuum, the industry is currently focussed on Campylobacter reduction using carcass processing interventions such as rapid surface chilling rather than on farm-level interventions which would serve to prevent/reduce the substantial impact C. jejuni infection has recently been estimated to have on animal health and welfare in intensively farmed poultry. The aim of this research is to develop a commercially viable on-farm real time portable sampling and detection tool to determine the Campylobacter status of flocks during production and prior to slaughter. The preliminary research to be carried out by this team will use an appropriate extraction system in synergy with GC-MS technology to capture and identify unique volatiles released through the metabolic activities of Campylobacter. Determination of detectable levels of known Campylobacter-associated volatiles will be investigated using several species and strains of Campylobacter in pure culture and in the presence of a range of different background materials (e.g. chicken faeces; litter) at different stages of growth. Screening for Campylobacter-associated volatiles in chicken (and possibly other poultry) faecal material using confirmed Campylobacter-positive and -negative samples will also be conducted, including PCR identiication of isolates as required. The unique volatiles identified by GC-MS will then be used to optimise the sensor, and on-farm detection will be re-evaluated using adsorbents containing trapped volatiles. The Harper Adams team will utilise a competent, post-doctoral analytical chemist who will be supported by Dr Lynn McIntyre with her wealth of knowledge on Campylobacter biology and by Dr Frank Vriesekoop who brings expertise in pathogen physiology and the application of analytical chemistry and method development. A number of potential applications and benefits are associated with the development of this testing platform which could extend beyond the single issue of Campylobacter detection in poultry to multiple target pathogens/analytes of relevance to crops and animals such as E. coli O157, Salmonella, mycotoxins and botrytis, and detection of specific diseases such as tuberculosis and mastitis. In relation to this specific application, the development of a hand held air sampling device capable of instantaneously detecting the presence of Campylobacter would offer a real time detection method not currently available to the poultry industry which could be applied at various points in the poultry production chain, from hatchery through farm production and processing, to the retail level. The ability to make simple frequent measurements to accurately pinpoint disease onset would enable farm/area mangers to identify potential links to farm activities and biosecurity practices, which is not currently possible using pathogen culture or PCR protocols. Likewise, such a detection system could be used during processing to assess the impact of carcass reduction strategies. Empowering poultry industry staff to make changes that can reduce the incidence of Campylobacter in poultry destined for the retail market would ultimately result in the greatest benefit; that of a reduction in public health burden associated with this zoonotic pathogen.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 95.04K | Year: 2015

Doctoral Training Partnerships: a range of postgraduate training is funded by the Research Councils. For information on current funding routes, see the common terminology at www.rcuk.ac.uk/StudentshipTerminology. Training grants may be to one organisation or to a consortia of research organisations. This portal will show the lead organisation only.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 224.29K | Year: 2015

The number of people suffering from dementia is large and growing at a considerable rate. In 2010, there were over 35.6 million dementia sufferers worldwide and 4.6 million cases are diagnosed each year. Alzheimers Disease (AD) accounts for between 50 and 75% of these cases. Galanthamine has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority and the European Medicines Agency as an AD treatment since 1998. Galanthamine is mainly produced from plants, as although chemical synthesis is possible, it is difficult and expensive. Galanthamine is the natural plant alkaloid used to produce the pharmaceutical product galanthamine. It is currently being extracted from daffodils/Narcissus (in central and western Europe), Leucojum (in eastern Europe) and Lycoris (in China). However, with the exception of daffodils the source plants are wild flowers not suitable for agricultural exploitation due to limitations in either resources or research. Thus daffodils are the only economically-viable world-wide source for galanthamine. The annual global consumption of galanthamine is currently constrained to 3-4 t/yr by existing production levels, but published figures predict the potential global market could be nearer 40 t/yr. Independent reports project the competitive Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient price for galanthamine drugs to remain between £15,000 - £18,000/kg in the medium term. The UK uplands are characterised by poor growing conditions brought about by a combination of factors including: low temperatures; exposure to wind; high rainfall; winter frosts; thin, stony soils; and a shortage of major nutrients. Consequently agricultural production is generally limited to grassland-based beef and sheep systems that are currently heavily reliant upon Government support payments to be economic. However, previous research (Sustainable production of the natural product galanthamine; Defra project NF0612) established th the environmental challenges associated with upland areas trigger a 50% higher yield of galanthamine in daffodils that are grown there when compared to those grown in lowland conditions. Daffodils grown for galanthamine production therefore offer a novel, potentially high value crop for UK upland farmers that could provide an important new income stream, increasing their economic resilience. However, for this to happen, underpinning research is required to evaluate and overcome any problems associated with integrating daffodil production into existing pastoral based farming systems. This project will acquire, re-design, test and evaluate machinery for planting bulbs under long-term grass leys and selectively harvesting the subsequent green daffodil material. Field-scale agronomy trials over a 4 year period will assess establishment rates and the extent to which these are influenced by seasonal variation. Full-scale production trials will quantify the impact of incorporating daffodil production into grazed pastures on animal performance and the stock carrying capacity of the land. The extent to which fertiliser inputs influence the competitive ability of the daffodils and the yield of galanthamine obtained will also be determined in order to develop protocols which optimise simultaneous production of galanthamine and livestock from hill and upland farms. Growing daffodils in this way will ensure that the ecosystem services associated with grazed grasslands in the uplands are maintained.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 30.93K | Year: 2017

Doctoral Training Partnerships: a range of postgraduate training is funded by the Research Councils. For information on current funding routes, see the common terminology at www.rcuk.ac.uk/StudentshipTerminology. Training grants may be to one organisation or to a consortia of research organisations. This portal will show the lead organisation only.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 95.04K | Year: 2015

Doctoral Training Partnerships: a range of postgraduate training is funded by the Research Councils. For information on current funding routes, see the common terminology at www.rcuk.ac.uk/StudentshipTerminology. Training grants may be to one organisation or to a consortia of research organisations. This portal will show the lead organisation only.


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 320.83K | Year: 2015

Minimal processing adds significant value to fresh produce, however, it also increases its perishability reducing shelf life and leading to waste of the produce and the resources used to grow it. This project is aimed at post harvest discolouration, a significant cause of quality loss in a wide range of fresh produce such as sliced apple, cut cabbage and lettuce. The main issue we are addressing is postharvest discolouration of lettuce in salad packs. UK lettuce production/imports are worth £240m farm gate but the retail value of UK processed salads is £800m. However, Tesco have recently reported that 68% of their salads are thrown away; the situation is similar for other retailers. There is therefore a need to improve postharvest quality to reduce waste and deliver consistently good quality products to consumers. Modified atmosphere packaging can provide control but once the pack is opened oxygen enters resulting in discolouration. Growing conditions also influence postharvest discolouration but are difficult to control in field crops. We are proposing breeding lettuce varieties with reduced propensity to discolour as a way to address the problem. To do this we need to understand the genetics and biochemistry of discolouration. We are building on previous research we have done which identified genetic factors controlling the amount of pinking and/or browning that developed on lettuce leaves in salad packs 3 days after processing. However, we do not know what compounds or which genes are involved and we now intend to find this out by a multidisciplinary project involving three universities; Harper Adams University, Reading and Warwick, a lettuce breeding company, a lettuce grower, a salads processor and the Horticulture Development Company. We have produced a set of experimental lettuce lines which we know show differences in the amount of pink or brown discolouration they produce. We will grow and process these lettuces in a way that mimics commercial productn. We will then assess the salad packs for the amount of discolouration developing over 3 days, which is the current best before date for supermarket salads. We can then link this information to the plants DNA profile to identify genetic factors for discolouration and DNA markers which can be used by plant breeders. The same lettuces will also be analysed for compounds produced by a biochemical pathway called the phenylpropanoid pathway. This is thought to produce the pigments that cause discolouration. We know from other studies in a plant called Arabidopsis the genes which control the phenylpropanoid pathway and we have found the same genes in lettuce. We will see how these genes behave in lettuce plants that produce a lot of discolouration and ones that dont discolour. We will also see how the genes behave under different growing conditions. We can link these gene expression patterns to the amount of pinking and browning to see which genes are the key ones. Once we have done this we can look for naturally occurring versions of the genes which give a reduced discolouration. The compounds produced by the phenylpropanoid pathway influence other things such as pest and disease resistance, taste etc. We do not want to reduce the amount of discolouration by breeding but end up with lettuce susceptible to pests or with poor taste, so we will assess lines which show high discolouration or no discolouration for their resistance to aphids and mildew and for taste to see if there are any differences. There are some compounds produced by the pathway which are colourless but still provide some resistance so by knowing the genetics and biochemistry breeders will be able to carry out smart breeding. We will see if the results for lettuce hold true for other crops by seeing how the key genes behave in apple and cabbage and whether this is related to the amount of browning that develops when they are processed and look for genetic differences in these crops


Grant
Agency: GTR | Branch: BBSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 195.40K | Year: 2015

The fungal pathogens Botrytis cinerea and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum have broad host ranges and cause serious disease on many horticultural crops. Both fungi can cause substantial losses on field-grown and protected lettuce crops, an industry worth almost £200 M annually in the UK. B. cinerea is a particular problem post-harvest, whereas S. sclerotiorum can result in up to 50% crop loss pre-harvest. Chemical control is problematic as few effective compounds are available, the number of sprays is restricted and timing is difficult. Moreover, the fungicides are medium to high risk for development of resistance. Development of durable resistance in the crop is a more sustainable solution, but has been an intransigent problem for lettuce breeders. The objective of this proposal is to demonstrate that a novel approach to breeding for pathogen resistance is possible. We will apply genomic and systems biology (computational) approaches in lettuce, and combine this with quantitative genetics studies to identify novel genes for increasing the resistance of lettuce to both B. cinerea and S. sclerotiorum. This will provide a foundation to develop similar resistance to these pathogens in other horticultural crops. We have two hypotheses we want to test. Firstly, that we can identify genes which confer resistance to both B. cinerea and S. sclerotiorum, two necrotrophic fungal pathogens. Genome sequencing of these fungi has indicated they share a range of genes associated with infection and colonization of plants, hence host resistance mechanisms against one pathogen might also confer resistance to the other. Secondly, we want to test the feasibility of applying systems biology research into horticultural crop species. We have used systems biology approaches to generate network models of how genes interact during the defence response of Arabidopsis to infection by B. cinerea. We combined large-scale gene expression data with mathematical modelling to predict the key resistance enes. In this work, we will carry out network analysis of the lettuce defence response and test whether the same genes are involved in disease resistance, and/or whether the hub genes in the network are important. This is a completely new approach to crop improvement, relying on gene-gene interactions during defence against pathogen infection. We will also look for conservation of disease resistance genes in tomato and Brassica, key crops affected by these pathogens. At the same time we will employ a more traditional quantitative genetic analysis to identify regions of the lettuce genome that influence resistance against both of these pathogens. We will screen nearly 100 lettuce accessions and cross accessions with the greatest resistance to a standard cultivar to generate mapping populations. A pre-existing mapping population (known to be segregating for disease resistance) will be screened for disease resistance to both B. cinerea and S. scerotiorum to identify important genomic regions for these traits. Finally we will integrate our quantitative genetic analysis and results from network analysis to generate lettuce lines and markers for use in breeding programmes. This project is possible because of the lettuce genome sequence that is available, as well as the extensive lettuce germplasm and genetic and genomic resources that Warwick has generated. The work will be exploited primarily through A.L.Tozer to develop lettuce varieties with increased resistance to B. cinerea and S. sclerotiorum fungal pathogens.

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