Wageningen, Netherlands
Wageningen, Netherlands

Wageningen University and Research Centre is a Dutch public university in Wageningen, Netherlands. It consists of Wageningen University and the former agricultural research institutes ) of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture. Wageningen UR trains specialists in life science and focuses its research on scientific, social and commercial problems in the field of life science and natural resources. In the field of agricultural science, the university is considered world-class. Wikipedia.


Time filter

Source Type

Altin R.,University of Trieste | Minca C.,Wageningen University
Landscape Research | Year: 2017

This paper examines a ‘landscape of power’ in the marginal northeastern corner of Italy, near the Italian-Slovenian border. The landscape is centred around the small town of Gradisca and its highly contested centres for asylum seekers and marked by the concomitant presence of a giant shopping mall, the largest Italian war memorial, and an aestheticised wine district. The result of participant observation, visual and textual analysis, and selected interviews, this study reflects on the transformation of a former cold war border area into a mix of carceral, hospitality, commercial, residential, rural spatialities that seem to be entirely disconnected with each other and linked instead to broader regional, national and international geographies. This fragmented landscape, dominated by massive ‘fortified’ enclosures and with gradually deterritorialised in-between spaces, described here as no man’s land, may be provocatively analysed as an Italian exopolis. © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


van Huis A.,Wageningen University
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine | Year: 2017

Background: The number of termite species in the world is more than 2500, and Africa with more than 1000 species has the richest intercontinental diversity. The family Termitidae contains builders of great mounds up to 5 m high. Colonies are composed of casts: a queen, a king, soldiers and workers. Some species of termite cultivate specialised fungi to digest cellulose. Termites constitute 10% of all animal biomass in the tropics. The purpose of the study was to make an overview of how termites are utilized, perceived and experienced in daily life across sub-Saharan Africa. Method: Ethno-entomological information on termites (Isoptera) in sub-Saharan Africa was collected by: (1) interviews with more than 300 people from about 120 ethnic groups from 27 countries in the region; (2) library studies in Africa, London, Paris and Leiden. Results: Vernacular names relate to mounds, insects as food, the swarming, and the behaviour of termites. Swarming reproductive, soldiers and queens are collected as food. There are many different ways to harvest them. Termites can also be used as feed for poultry or as bait to catch birds and fish. The mushrooms that grow each year from the fungus gardens on the termite mounds are eaten. The soldiers, the fungus gardens and the soil of termite mounds are used for multiple medicinal purposes. Mounds and soil of termites have numerous functions: for geochemical prospecting, making bricks, plastering houses, making pots, and for storage. Termite soil is often used as fertilizer. The act of eating soil (geophagy) among women, especially those that are pregnant, is practised all over Africa. The mounds can serve as burying places and are often associated with the spiritual world, especially containing the spirits of ancestors. Termites also play a role as oracle, in superstitious beliefs, in art and literature. Conclusion: The following characteristics make termites so appealing: the dominance in the landscape, the social organization, the destructive power, and the provision of food. The study shows that termites play a major role in peoples' lives, in physical as well as spiritual aspects. © 2017 The Author(s).


Van De Veer E.,Wageningen University | Van Herpen E.,Wageningen University | Van Trijp H.C.M.,Wageningen University
Journal of Consumer Research | Year: 2016

External cues regularly override physiological cues in food consumption resulting in mindless eating. In a series of experiments, this study shows that mindfulness, an enhanced attention state, improves consumers' reliance on physiological cues across consumption episodes. Consumers who are chronically high in mindfulness (study 1) or who receive a short mindfulness training that focuses attention on the body (study 2) compensate more for previous food intake in their subsequent consumption. Moreover, after a mindful body meditation, consumers are more aware of physiological cues that develop after consumption (study 3), rather than of the amount they have previously eaten (study 4). Furthermore, we argue and show that the focus of mindfulness matters: mindfulness trainings that focus attention on the environment or on the body similarly elicit state mindfulness, but only mindful attention with a focus on the body stimulates compensation for previous consumption and awareness of satiety cues. Finally, practicing mindfulness and specifically paying mindful attention to body sensations is related to a more constant body weight in a sample of the general population (study 5). © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Journal of Consumer Research, Inc. All rights reserved.


Normalization is a fundamental step in data processing to account for the sample-to-sample variation observed in biological samples. However, data structure is affected by normalization. In this paper, we show how, and to what extent, the correlation structure is affected by the application of 11 different normalization procedures. We also discuss the consequences for data analysis and interpretation, including principal component analysis, partial least-squares discrimination, and the inference of metabolite-metabolite association networks. © 2016 American Chemical Society.


Tielemans S.M.A.J.,Wageningen University
Journal of Human Hypertension | Year: 2017

The added value of blood pressure (BP) trajectories for predicting cardiovascular disease (CVD) is currently unknown. We investigated the association of systolic BP (SBP) trajectories with CVD and all-cause mortality and compared these associations with those of average SBP, taking antihypertensive medication into account. Data from 762 participants of the Rancho Bernardo Study were used. SBP from five examinations (maximum) from 1984 to 2002 was used; mortality data were obtained from 2002 to 2013. SBP trajectories were derived using group-based trajectory modelling. Cox proportional hazards analysis was used to investigate associations of trajectories and average SBP with CVD and all-cause mortality, adjusted for age, sex, cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and antihypertensive medication. Mean baseline age was 65.7 years, and 67% were women. Four trajectories were identified, in which mean SBP increased by 5–12 mm Hg during 10 years. The highest trajectories were associated with two to three times greater CVD mortality and 1.5 times greater all-cause mortality risk, compared with the lowest trajectory. Each 20 mmHg increment in average SBP was associated with 1.4 times greater CVD mortality risk and 1.2 times all-cause mortality risk. Associations were not modified by antihypertensive medication (P-interaction>0.10). SBP trajectories were not superior to average SBP in predicting CVD and all-cause mortality. In the general middle-aged and older population of the Rancho Bernardo study, SBP trajectories provided no added value to average SBP in predicting CVD and all-cause mortality. Long-term average SBP levels and trajectories were significant predictors of CVD and all-cause mortality, irrespective of prescribed antihypertensive medication (which in the 1980s–1990s mainly were diuretics and β-blockers).Journal of Human Hypertension advance online publication, 23 March 2017; doi:10.1038/jhh.2017.20. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature.


Deyn G.B.D.,Wageningen University
Oikos | Year: 2017

The importance of above-belowground interactions for plant growth and community dynamics became clear in the last decades, whereas the numerous studies on plant life history improved our knowledge on eco-evolutionary dynamics. However, surprisingly few studies have linked both research fields despite their potential to increase our mechanistic understanding of how above belowground interactions are governed. Here I briefly review studies on above-belowground interactions and plant life history and identify important research gaps. To advance our understanding of ecological strategies and eco-evolutionary dynamics of plants and their associated organisms it is warranted to elucidate the interconnectivity and tradeoffs of plant life history traits of growth, defence, reproduction, nutrient cycling and the functional composition of above- and belowground heterotrophic communities. Using the concept of tradeoffs in growth, reproduction and defence we can postulate that plants in rich soil grow, reproduce and die fast whilst avoiding above- and belowground antagonists, whereas plants in poor soil grow slow, live and reproduce longer and invest in above- and belowground mutualists and defences. However, alternative scenarios are possible and depend on the selection pressure by above- and belowground mutualists and antagonists during plant ontogeny and via after-life effects. To elucidate missing links between life history traits and above-belowground interactions, complementary modelling and empirical studies are needed that reveal the coupling between below- and aboveground plant traits of growth, defence and reproduction, their heritability and their cost/benefit relation. These cost/benefit analyses of defence should span from individuals to future generations, taking feedback effects via altered biotic communities and resource competition into account. The role of soil fertility in steering plant life history traits requires explicit testing of trans-generational trait shifts in growth, defence, reproduction, cost/benefit of associations with mutualists and antagonists and soil feedbacks across plant genotypes/species with distinct life history traits, grown across soil fertility gradients. © 2016 Nordic Society Oikos.


Van Der Sman R.G.M.,Wageningen University
Food and Function | Year: 2017

In this paper we investigate whether the Flory-Huggins theory can describe the thermodynamics of solutions of simple carbohydrates, like sugars and polyols. In particular, we focus on the description of the solubility of the carbohydrates in water. This is investigated for both binary and ternary mixtures, having two types of these carbohydrates. This research question arises especially in the case of bakery products, where one seeks to replace sucrose with other simple carbohydrates-which are often polyols. Based on the model parameters obtained from fitting the theory to the experimental data of binary solutions, we show that the theory can predict (a) solubility data for ternary mixtures, over a broad range of concentrations and temperatures, and (b) the deliquescence point of binary mixtures of carbohydrate crystals as a function of temperature. The theory can even be applied to carbohydrates, which form hydrate crystals. Together with our earlier theories on the thermodynamics of complex food mixtures, we have now a complete thermodynamic framework to describe the phase and state transitions of food materials as confectionery and bakery products, where the question of sucrose replacement is urgent. © 2017 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


Zhao T.,Wageningen University | Schranz M.E.,Wageningen University
Current Opinion in Plant Biology | Year: 2017

Network analysis approaches have been widely applied across disciplines. In biology, network analysis is now frequently adopted to organize protein–protein interactions, organize pathways and/or to interpret gene co-expression patterns. However, comparative genomic analyses still largely rely on pairwise comparisons and linear visualizations between genomes. In this article, we discuss the challenges and prospects for establishing a generalized plant phylogenomic synteny network approach needed to interpret the wealth of new and emerging genomic data. We illustrate our approach with an example synteny network of B-class floral MADS-box genes. A broad synteny network approach holds great promise for understanding the evolutionary history of genes and genomes across broad phylogenetic groups and divergence times. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd


Scholten E.,Wageningen University
Food and Function | Year: 2017

An understanding of the effect of structural features of foods in terms of specific sensory attributes is necessary to design foods with specific functionalities, such as reduced fat or increased protein content, and increased feeling of satiety or liking. Although the bulk rheological properties of both liquid and solid foods can be related to textural attributes such as thickness and firmness, they do not always correlate to more complex sensory attributes, such as creamy and smooth. These attributes are often a result of different contributions, including lubrication aspects and interactions between food and components present in the oral cavity. In this review, the different contributions for a variety of composite foods, such as dispersions, emulsions and emulsion-filled gels, are discussed. The rheological properties are discussed in relation to specific structural characteristics of the foods, which are then linked to lubrication aspects and sensory perception. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.


Background/Objectives:It is unknown if wine, beer and spirit intake lead to a similar association with diabetes. We studied the association between alcoholic beverage preference and type 2 diabetes incidence in persons who reported to consume alcohol.Subjects/Methods:Ten European cohort studies from the Consortium on Health and Ageing: Network of Cohorts in Europe and the United States were included, comprising participant data of 62 458 adults who reported alcohol consumption at baseline. Diabetes incidence was based on documented and/or self-reported diagnosis during follow-up. Preference was defined when ⩾70% of total alcohol consumed was either beer, wine or spirits. Adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) were computed using Cox proportional hazard regression. Single-cohort HRs were pooled by random-effects meta-analysis.Results:Beer, wine or spirit preference was not related to diabetes risk compared with having no preference. The pooled HRs were HR 1.06 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.93, 1.20) for beer, HR 0.99 (95% CI 0.88, 1.11) for wine, and HR 1.19 (95% CI 0.97, 1.46) for spirit preference. Absolute wine intake, adjusted for total alcohol, was associated with a lower diabetes risk: pooled HR per 6 g/day was 0.96 (95% CI 0.93, 0.99). A spirit preference was related to a higher diabetes risk in those with a higher body mass index, in men and women separately, but not after excluding persons with prevalent diseases.Conclusions:This large individual-level meta-analysis among persons who reported alcohol consumption revealed that the preference for beer, wine, and spirits was similarly associated with diabetes incidence compared with having no preference.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication, 22 February 2017; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2017.4. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature.


van Tatenhove J.P.M.,Wageningen University
Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning | Year: 2017

Because seas and coastlines are shared between states, the formulation and implementation of marine spatial planning (MSP) should be transboundary by nature. The main argument of this paper is that MSP should be organized as a transboundary policy-making process, but this is hampered by the conceptual and institutional fragmentation MSP is facing. Based on an analysis of four transboundary planning processes in different European seas, the paper gives insight into the possibilities to develop and implement transboundary marine spatial planning (TMSP). To overcome the conceptual and institutional challenges, TMSP should be developed as a reflexive governance arrangement, in which the actors involved are able to change the rules of the game and to challenge the existing (national-oriented) MSP discourses. The paper develops four forms of reflexivity (unreflectiveness; performative reflectiveness; structural reflectiveness; and reflexivity) to assess TMSP processes and to formulate conditions which are crucial to develop TMSP as a reflexive marine governance arrangement. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group


Jiggins J.,Wageningen University
Outlook on Agriculture | Year: 2016

This article highlights examples of transition pathways towards more sustainable natural resources management and farming systems. The common thread is that all involve ‘changing the boundaries’ in one or more significant ways, including new ways of thinking about core businesses and stakeholder involvement, creating new spaces and processes for experimentation and co-learning, discovering new practices and technological opportunities, and finding a new balance between public and private standard setting and regulation. Each promises greater resilience in the face of uncertainties associated with climate change, market risks and policy fluctuations that are unforeseeable as to scale, timing, intensity or consequence. Each involves purposeful change in the institutions governing current mainstream practice. © The Author(s) 2016.


Roling N.,Wageningen University
Outlook on Agriculture | Year: 2016

This article uses examples and insights from research in West Africa to analyse the concept of institutions and the consequences of their ‘invisibility’ in normal agricultural development practice. Comparative action research across nine agricultural domains in West Africa supported experiments with multilevel institutional change as a new approach to farm development. The work was inspired by the disappointing results of the prevailing focus on adoption of technology by individual farmers. The programme surprised those involved by showing the extent to which diagnostic studies can uncover institutional impediments to farm innovation and the ability of multi-stakeholder processes organized by and through innovation platforms to create multilevel opportunities for inducing change in institutional regimes. The details of each experience have been published elsewhere. This article concludes that if climate change and other systemic crises threaten agriculture and natural resource management, then institutional literacy and ingenuity offer a way forward. © The Author(s) 2016.


Ter Braak C.J.F.,Wageningen University
Environmental and Ecological Statistics | Year: 2017

Ecologists wish to understand the role of traits of species in determining where each species occurs in the environment. For this, they wish to detect associations between species traits and environmental variables from three data tables, species count data from sites with associated environmental data and species trait data from data bases. These three tables leave a missing part, the fourth-corner. The fourth-corner correlations between quantitative traits and environmental variables, heuristically proposed 20 years ago, fill this corner. Generalized linear (mixed) models have been proposed more recently as a model-based alternative. This paper shows that the squared fourth-corner correlation times the total count is precisely the score test statistic for testing the linear-by-linear interaction in a Poisson log-linear model that also contains species and sites as main effects. For multiple traits and environmental variables, the score test statistic is proportional to the total inertia of a doubly constrained correspondence analysis. When the count data are over-dispersed compared to the Poisson or when there are other deviations from the model such as unobserved traits or environmental variables that interact with the observed ones, the score test statistic does not have the usual chi-square distribution. For these types of deviations, row- and column-based permutation methods (and their sequential combination) are proposed to control the type I error without undue loss of power (unless no deviation is present), as illustrated in a small simulation study. The issues for valid statistical testing are illustrated using the well-known Dutch Dune Meadow data set. © 2017 The Author(s)


Tobacco discouragement, smoking cessation and tobacco endgame policies are sometimes criticised for being unduly paternalistic: governments should respect citizens' freedom and not take over their individual responsibility for healthy behaviour. In this commentary, I argue that very strict tobacco policies can be justified on multiple grounds, including the harm principle, the public good of maintaining a healthy society, and the reduction of health inequities. The moral reasons governments have to protect people against the harms of smoking do not limit or infringe upon the responsibility of each individual to take care of her own health: responsibility for healthy behaviour is not a zero-sum game.


Scheres B.,Wageningen University | Van Der Putten W.H.,Netherlands Institute of Ecology | Van Der Putten W.H.,Wageningen University
Nature | Year: 2017

Plants cope with the environment in a variety of ways, and ecological analyses attempt to capture this through life-history strategies or trait-based categorization. These approaches are limited because they treat the trade-off mechanisms that underlie plant responses as a black box. Approaches that involve the molecular or physiological analysis of plant responses to the environment have elucidated intricate connections between developmental and environmental signals, but in only a few well-studied model species. By considering diversity in the plant response to the environment as the adaptation of an information-processing network, new directions can be found for the study of life-history strategies, trade-offs and evolution in plants. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.


Boesten J.J.T.I.,Wageningen University
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2017

Leaching to groundwater is an important element of the regulatory risk assessment of pesticides in western countries. Including aged sorption in this assessment is relevant because there is ample evidence of this process and because it leads to a decrease in simulated leaching. This work assesses the likely magnitude of this decrease for four groundwater scenarios used for regulatory purpose in the EU (from the UK, Portugal, Austria and Greece) and for ranges of aged-sorption parameters and substance properties using the PEARL model. Three aged-sorption parameters sets were derived from literature, representing approximately 5th, 50th and 95th percentile cases for the magnitude of the effect of aged sorption on leaching concentrations (called S, M and L, respectively). The selection of these percentile cases was based only on the fNE parameter (i.e. the ratio of the aged sorption and the equilibrium sorption coefficients) because leaching was much more affected by the uncertainty in this parameter than by the uncertainty in the desorption rate coefficient of these sites (kd). For the UK scenario, the annual flux concentration of pesticide leaching at 1 m depth decreased by typically a factor of 5, 30 and > 1000 for the S, M and L parameter sets, respectively. This decrease by a factor of 30 for the M parameter set appeared to be approximately valid also for the other three scenarios. Decreasing the Freundlich exponent N from 0.9 into 0.7 for the M parameter set, increased this factor of 30 into a factor of typically 1000, considering all four scenarios. The aged-sorption sites were close to their equilibrium conditions during the leaching simulations for two of the four scenarios (for all substances considered and the M parameter set), but this was not the case for the other two scenarios. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.


van der Sman R.G.M.,Wageningen University
Chemical Engineering Science | Year: 2017

In this paper we perform direct numerical simulation (DNS) on the problem of fluid flow through a filter plate backed by a packed bed of spheres, resembling a cake layer on top of a membrane. For both the complete problem, and its single components (the filter plate and a bed of spheres of finite height) we have observed three flow regimes, depending on the Reynolds number. In each regime the flow resistance is showing a different scaling with the Reynolds number. In the Stokes flow regime the total flow resistance can be decomposed in linear independent components. The interior flows inside the filter holes and inside the packed bed follow the same correlations as hold for the single component. However, at the transition zone between filter plate and packed bed, there is a diverging flow in the first row of the packed bed, whose contribution in the flow resistance scales with the fractional hole to the power −1.5. Similar scaling exponent has been found earlier for the viscous-inertial regime with Reynolds numbers larger than 10, which has been modelled using the porous medium approach. Our findings suggest that also in the Stokes flow and the weakly flow regime the problem can also be solved with the same porous medium approach using the Navier-Stokes equation having Darcy–Brinkman terms incorporated. This investigation provides a good basis for developing more accurate analytical models for the flow resistance of membrane filters with a cake layer on top. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd


Hunting is a major threat to wildlife particularly in tropical regions, but a systematic large-scale estimate of hunting-induced declines of animal numbers was lacking so far. A study published in Science on April 14 fills this gap. An international team of ecologists and environmental scientists found that bird and mammal populations were reduced within 7 and 40 km of hunters' access points, such as roads and settlements. Within these impact zones, mammal populations declined on average by 83% and bird populations by 58%. Additionally, the team found that commercial hunting had a higher impact than hunting for family food, and that hunting pressure was higher in areas with better accessibility to major towns where wild meat could be traded. The impact of hunting was found to be larger than the team expected. 'Thanks to this study, we estimate that only 17 percent of the original mammal abundance and 42 percent of the birds remain in hunted areas.' The researchers synthesised 176 studies to quantify hunting-induced declines of mammal and bird populations across the tropics of Central and South America, Africa and Asia. The study was led by Ana Benítez-López, who works at the department of Environmental Science at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. She cooperated with researchers from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), the universities of Wageningen and Utrecht in the Netherlands and a colleague from the School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex. 'There are several drivers of animal decline in tropical landscapes: habitat destruction, overhunting, fragmentation etcetera. While deforestation and habitat loss can be monitored using remote sensing, hunting can only be tracked on the ground. We wanted to find a systematic and consistent way to estimate the impact of hunting across the tropics. As a starting point, we used the hypothesis that humans gather resources in a circle around their village and in the proximity of roads. As such, hunting pressure is higher in the proximity of villages and other access points. From there the densities of species increase up to a distance where no effect of hunting is observed. We called this species depletion distances which we quantified in our analysis. This allowed us to map hunting-induced declines across the tropics for the first time,' Benítez-López explains. Not only the big cuddly species The main novelty of the current study is that it combined the evidence across many local studies, thus for the first time providing an overarching picture of the magnitude of the impact across a large number of species. The study takes all animals into account - not only the big cuddly species, but birds and rodents as well. Benítez-López explains the difference in impact between birds and mammals: 'Mammals are more sought after because they're bigger and provide more food. They are worth a longer trip. The bigger the mammal, the further a hunter would walk to catch it.' With increasing wild meat demand for rural and urban supply, hunters have harvested the larger species almost to extinction in the proximity of the villages and they must travel further distances to hunt. Besides, for commercially interesting species such as elephants and gorillas, hunting distances are much larger because the returns are higher. Another interesting finding of this study is that mammal populations have also been reduced by hunting even within protected areas. 'Strategies to sustainably manage wild meat hunting in both protected and unprotected tropical ecosystems are urgently needed to avoid further defaunation,' she says. 'This includes monitoring hunting activities by increasing anti-poaching patrols and controlling overexploitation via law enforcement'. A. Benitez-Lopez*, R. Alkemade2,3, A. M. Schipper2, D. J. Ingram4, P. A. Verweij5, J. A. J. Eikelboom2,5,6, M. A. J. Huijbregts1, 2 . 2017. The impact of hunting on tropical mammal and bird populations. Science (accepted), April 14 2017 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaj1891 1Department of Environmental Science, Institute for Wetland and Water Research, Radboud University,The Netherlands2PBL, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague, The Netherlands. 3Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands 4School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, UK. 5Energy and Resources group, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, 6Resource Ecology Group, Wageningen University & Research The Netherlands


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Peripheral parts of the Amazon forest were long thought to be most vulnerable to climate-induced collapse. Now, a study by an international team of scientists reveals in the scientific journal PNAS that seasonally inundated areas in the heart of the forest may be an unexpected Achilles' heel. Those floodplains turn out to be particularly prone to fire which may subsequently spread into the surrounding forest. The team made the discovery by combining satellite and field datafor the entire basin, with information on more than 250 forest fires, to compare how forest resilience varies between floodable and non-floodable areas, and in relation to climatic variables. Analyzing the distribution of trees across the basin, they found that fire-related savannas can dominate the flooded parts already when rainfall drops below 1500 mm/year, whereas in other parts rainfall as low as 1000 mm/year can be tolerated. "Our findings suggest that if the Amazonian climate becomes drier, forests will probably collapse first in the seasonally in undated areas", says the lead author Bernardo M. Flores, and a former PhD candidate at Brazil's Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) and Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. The authors also measured forest recovery rates after the 1997 and 2005 mega-fires as an indication of resilience. They found that fire impact on forest structure and soil fertility was higher and more persistent in the floodplains. "The lower capacity of floodplain forests to recover suggests that these areas can be trapped by recurrent fires in an open vegetation state more easily than the uplands", says Milena Holmgren of Wageningen University & Research and a coauthor of the study. The authors intend to continue studying the mechanisms that may lead to savanna expansion in Amazonian ecosystems. "An important question at this point is if these burnt forests will indeed turn into savanna, yet this will depend on the plant species that colonize disturbed sites," says Flores. The new results have implications not only for forest conservation and local societies. The loss of floodplain forests would result in massive carbon emissions from the trees, soil, and peatlands recently discovered in the central and western Amazonia. The study paves the way for new management actions that, if incorporated by Amazonian countries into their environmental policies, would help preserve the Amazon forest in the future. "If Amazonian societies want to increase the resilience of the forest, they might consider developing fire management plans with a special attention to these seasonally inundated areas", says Flores.


News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: www.nature.com

Plant biologist Krishna Niyogi opens the doors of growing cabinets in his lab at the University of California, Berkeley, revealing rows of tobacco and Arabidopsis plants. Under the warm solar lamps, vibrant green algae thrives in rotating flasks and streaked on petri dishes. For the past 20 years or so, Niyogi has been using these plants to study photosynthesis, mutating one gene at a time to uncover the molecular mechanisms behind plants' responses to shifting light levels. The green world inside the cabinets may seem distant from the reality of growing maize (corn) in Iowa or rice in Cambodia, but think again. Last November, Niyogi and his colleagues showed that engineering photosynthesis can improve crop yields in field-grown tobacco plants (Nicotiana tabacum). The researchers are now translating their modifications to food crops. Mindful of the growing global population, non-profit organizations and governments around the world are investing in research to optimize photosynthesis in the hope of improving the yield of crops such as rice, wheat and cowpeas. “Photosynthesis is a bit of an underachiever,” says Jeremy Harbinson, a plant scientist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Photosynthesis is inefficient and, despite it being one of the best understood processes in plants, it hasn't been exploited by agronomists to boost crop production, Harbinson explains. While researchers, such as Niyogi, are engineering plants to use sunlight more efficiently, others are working to improve the reactions that capture carbon dioxide or, even more ambitiously, reinvent a plant's metabolism and anatomy. During the middle of the last century, amid warnings of famines, scientists made a concerted effort to modernize agriculture. As part of the green revolution, agronomists used conventional breeding techniques to improve yields, producing plants with shorter stalks, for example, that focus their energy on making more seeds instead. They also encouraged the use of fertilization, irrigation and pest-control methods. These advances meant global production of wheat, rice and maize doubled from around 1 billion tonnes of grain in 1960 to 2 billion tonnes in 2000. A food-supply crisis was averted. The prospect of world hunger looms again, however. To feed 2050's expected population of 9.7 billion people, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that global agricultural production will have to rise by about 50%, and double in developing countries, assuming levels of food loss and waste do not change. But the techniques that have increased yields since the 1960s may have hit a ceiling. In wheat and rice in particular, plant biologists are seeing limited improvements. “We've been living off those gains for 50 years,” says Robert Furbank, director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis in Acton. “We have to look at radical solutions.” Reducing food loss and waste (see page S6), and making more-sustainable dietary choices (see page S18) will help. But increasing the potential yield of crops to produce more food without using extra land, water or fertilizer would be a powerful boost to ensuring people have access to enough food. The hope is that with genetic modification of photosynthesis we will enter a new era of yield improvements. Photosynthesis is the chain of metabolic reactions through which plants convert energy from the Sun, CO and water into the molecules they need. The process converts only about 5% of the energy that plants receive into biomass. “You would think a billion years of evolution would have optimized photosynthesis by now,” says Niyogi, but things aren't so simple. For one thing, cultivated crops face different limiting factors to wild plants. “In nature, plants are usually limited by drought stress, nutrients and pathogens,” he says. But modern farming methods and tools such as irrigation, fertilizer and pesticides have lessened these challenges, affording cultivated crops the luxury of bumping up against the inefficiencies of light absorption. Niyogi's research centres on a fundamental process called photoprotection. High levels of sunlight can damage plant cells, so to protect themselves they make pigments that temporarily deflect excess energy when sunlight is too bright — a botanical sunscreen. When the light levels shift, perhaps because of the movement of leaves that shade others or a change in cloud cover, plant cells ramp photosynthesis back up — but it takes a few minutes. In densely planted crops, where a canopy of leaves creates dynamic patterns of light and shade, a lot of productive time is lost to this photoprotection lag. Niyogi's research focuses on a photoprotection mechanism called non-photochemical quenching (NPQ), which reduces yield by an estimated 20%. His group has had promising results from the upregulation of three genes in tobacco involved in two forms of NPQ that include the protective pigment zeaxanthin. But positive results in the lab are no guarantee of success in a field crop. It can be difficult to get plants to stably express new genes over multiple generations. And of course, field conditions can vary widely from the controlled environment inside growth cabinets. Niyogi's team is part of a multi-institution project — called Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) — to increase the yield of food crops in developing countries through photosynthesis. As part of the programme, the Berkeley researchers worked with plant biologist Stephen Long, who directs the wider RIPE project, and his team at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign to do field tests of the engineered light-handling mechanism in tobacco. Tobacco is a good model for studying photoprotection because it has a dense canopy of leaves, like maize. RIPE's computer models, which simulate the reactions of photosynthesis, predicted a 20% improvement in yield for tobacco plants with genetically altered NPQ pathways. That's a big change — an improvement of just a few per cent achieved without upping the pressure on land, water or fertilizer would make a significant difference to farmers. Because this kind of research can be difficult to translate to field trials, when the researchers measured the dry weight, and saw the tobacco yield had been boosted by 15%1, they were delighted. “Yes! We got more!” Long says. They are now planning to test whether the photoprotection boost works in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), a major source of protein in sub-Saharan Africa, in partnership with researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia and cowpea breeders in West Africa. And in Illinois, the researchers are translating the work to rice. Tinkering with photoprotection is not the only way to improve plants' use of light energy. Anastasios Melis, a plant biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, is working on reducing the amount of the pigment chlorophyll inside chloroplasts, plants' photosynthetic organelles. Melis knows that this sounds counter-intuitive. But consider the way in which a canopy of densely planted crops shades many of the leaves below, he says. More-transparent leaves with less chlorophyll will allow more light to pass through to lower leaves — improving the productivity of the plant as a whole. Researchers are also studying the infrared-absorbing chlorophylls made by some types of photosynthetic cyanobacteria2. Infrared radiation is normally considered to be outside the range that can be used by plants for photosynthesis. If scientists can map out the details of how bacterial chlorophylls are produced, and integrate them into crops, the number of available photons could increase by about 19%, allowing the modified plants to capture more solar energy. “We cannot change the intensity of the sunlight,” says Melis. “We just have to make better use of it.” The solar energy that plants capture is used to make chemical energy inside the cell. This is then used to fix CO and make sugars. This second stage, called the Calvin cycle, could also be made more efficient. Rubisco is one of the most important enzymes in the Calvin cycle, but the CO fixing enzyme is prone to errors. “Every fourth turnover, it fixes an oxygen molecule instead of CO ,” explains Donald Ort, a plant biologist for the US Department of Agriculture who is based at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. This chemical error, known as photorespiration, generates a toxic compound called glycolate that plants must break down. When photosynthetic cells first evolved, there was very little oxygen in the atmosphere, so the fact that rubisco couldn't always distinguish oxygen from CO wasn't a problem. Researchers think that by the time oxygen levels were high enough to be a problem, the enzyme was too established and complex to be improved through evolution. Instead, plants make rubisco in large quantities so there is always enough to fix the CO needed. The enzyme is thought to be the most abundant on Earth. Although higher levels of CO in the atmosphere boost photosynthesis, human activities that increase the level of CO will not improve rubisco's odds. The enzyme makes more mistakes at higher temperatures, and plant scientists expect that photorespiration will increase as a result of rising global temperatures — to the detriment of crop yields. For many years, researchers were uncertain whether there was much variation in rubisco, says Elizabete Carmo-Silva, a plant scientist at Lancaster University, UK. But improvements in technology that allows photosynthetic phenotypes to be measured in the field have shown that this isn't true. Carmo-Silva's group is studying rubisco and rubisco activase (which helps restore the carbon-fixing enzyme after it makes a mistake) in wheat strains. The work is ongoing, but the team has already found variants of these enzymes that recover more quickly than typical rubisco after fixing oxygen. These variants could be bred into the germplasm, the genetic material that's used to develop seeds, she says (see page S8). Ort is focused on streamlining the reactions that plants use to break down glycolate. These type of reactions use a lot of energy and require chemical intermediates to be shuttled between chloroplasts, mitochondria and organelles called peroxisomes. “This lowers the efficiency of photosynthesis by about 30 or 40% — it's huge,” says Ort. Organisms, such as the bacterium Escherichia coli, have more-efficient reaction pathways for metabolizing glycolate than the complex pathways that evolved in plants. When researchers tried to introduce this bacterial mechanism into Arabidopsis, they found that photosynthesis was boosted only modestly3. Ort suspects that this is because plant cells were still shipping glycolate out of the chloroplast even with the introduction of the improved chemical pathway. Ort has developed tobacco plants with chloroplasts that lack glycolate transporters, and so are forced to metabolize the compound in that organelle using the more-efficient pathway. Preliminary results suggest that these plants had a 20–30% increase in biomass. Before submitting the work for publication, Ort plans to replicate the results in a second field experiment this year. Although plants haven't developed an alternative to rubisco, a more-efficient form of photosynthesis has independently evolved more than 60 times. C photosynthesis, in which the first step involves producing a four-carbon compound instead of a three-carbon one, is about 50% more efficient than the C process because it uses a more-effective enzyme to capture CO . This is especially true for plants living in dry, hot conditions, says Jane Langdale, a plant biologist at the University of Oxford, UK. Langdale is part of the C Rice Project, which aims to transform rice from a C into a C plant. The project was conceived in 1999 by John Sheehy, a plant physiologist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Philippines, and the project's scientists would be the first to admit that their goal is ambitious. To make rice into a C plant, researchers must endow it not only with new metabolic networks, but also with a new anatomy. During the initial phases of the project, scientists focused on finding the genes responsible for C metabolism. They then added these genes to a strain of rice one at a time. In the modified rice, only about 5% of CO enters the more-efficient C pathway, says plant biologist Paul Quick at the IRRI, who led this phase of work. “We won't be able to get the benefit of the C pathway until we have the anatomy,” he says. Understanding how to build the leaf anatomy is the current phase of the project. Photosynthetic cells in the leaves of C plants are arranged around the veins in a circular pattern called Kranz anatomy (see 'Shape of things to come'). Instead of using rubisco, bundle sheath cells in this ring use the enzyme phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase, which doesn't bind oxygen, to capture CO in a four-carbon compound. The compound is then shuttled into a second type of cell, called a mesophyll, where it is converted back to CO and fixed by rubisco. The CO concentration is much higher in C mesophyll cells, and so the rate of photorespiration is much lower. Despite the additional conversion steps and the need to move compounds between cells, this process is more efficient than C photosynthesis. To build Kranz anatomy into rice leaves, plant biologists need a developmental map. They don't know what sets a plant cell on the path to becoming part of a vein, a mesophyll or bundle sheath cell, and they don't know how these cells form the spatial patterns typical of C plants. Langdale has been studying development in maize, because it's one of only a few plants with both C leaves (the blades around the corn cob) and C leaves (all the rest). By examining the differences in gene-expression patterns between these leaf types, Langdale has found about 280 genes that seem to be involved in the formation of this Kranz anatomy. After whittling down the list to 70, based on function, her group “took each gene and put it into rice with a promoter to switch it on all the time”, she explains. Not all of the genes seemed to have an effect. Langdale is now doing further studies of ten or so of the genes that seem the most promising. Genetic engineering has advanced substantially since the C Rice Project started. Researchers used to have to transform rice one gene at a time, now they can do two or three genes at once. Eventually, they expect to be able to build a C shuttle — a set of genes required for C photosynthesis that can be inserted into various plants in one go. But first they must work out what changes to make. Langdale estimates that, realistically, C rice won't make an appearance in farmers' fields until at least 2039. In the past, improving yields through photosynthetic interventions was not a practical research focus — these were “intellectual questions”, says Christine Raines, a plant scientist at the University of Essex in Colchester, UK. Now the idea is in vogue, and researchers have the funding to test their ideas. “We will begin to see a lot of papers coming out in the next 18 months,” she says. But significant challenges lie ahead. “Organisms resist attempts to reprogram them,” says Melis, and these projects seek to alter the very heart of a plant's chemistry. Before they can make such unprecedented changes, scientists will need, for example, to better understand how resources such as sugars and lipids are routed to certain places in plant cells. Although this will be difficult, many plant biologists think that engineering photosynthesis could be the best hope for feeding a growing population and combating food insecurity. “Photosynthesis is the last big unexplored route to improving yields,” says Harbinson.


News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Keen to promote agrarian revolution in space to ensure food sufficiency for astronauts on space missions, NASA has stepped up efforts to grow more plants and vegetables outside the Earth. The sense of urgency is spawned by the upcoming space missions including a Mars mission. The advantage of an accelerated food cultivation program will be keeping the astronauts healthy and inducing more self-sufficiency in food than bringing supplies from Earth. In the latest supplies payload sent to the International Space Station, the Advanced Plant Habitat or APH experiment stands out as a prominent plant and vegetable cultivation program. Unlike previous projects, APH is seeing more volume and faster production of vegetables at the space station and aims to increase the share of food of space crew. NASA's priority to raise plants in cosmic conditions has certainly moved to the next level. NASA has dovetailed the human mission to Mars with a plan for developing a reliable food supply to sustain the crew for longer periods on the Red Planet. Programs like APH are preparing the ground for growing vegetables outside the environment of Earth, noted Chris Wolverton, a professor of botany at Ohio Wesleyan University. "In the near-term, most experts expect astronauts will take the food they need for basic sustenance with them from the Earth," said Wolverton who studies plant gravity with the backing of NASA. The choice of leafy vegetables is unmistakable as they have been good at absorbing chemical elements and in producing vitamins to keep the crew healthy. In fact, APH is an offshoot of NASA's own initiative Vegetable Production System, called Veggie, launched in 2015. The Veggie program managed to produce lettuce successfully at the ISS as NASA's first food grown in space and which fed the astronauts. However, APH differs from Veggies with its subdued reliance on enclosed plants while the latter was processing more unfiltered air inside the station. The APH gives astronauts greater control of the growing chamber's environment as it is backed by many LEDs that emit white and infrared light to increase the output. "It's really a way for the scientists to modify the environment: the light, the water, the atmosphere," said program manager Bryan Onate. The harvest of red romaine lettuce at the ISS in August 2015 was the culmination of efforts that involved simulation of the Martian soil to grow vegetables in near-zero gravity conditions. Yet another experiment at Wageningen University showed that 10 crops can be grown on soil at conditions resembling Mars. The crops include pea, tomato, leek, rye, radish, spinach, garden rocket, cress, quinoa, and chives. Meanwhile, potato has emerged as the best candidate for a possible crop that can be planted on Mars. This is because potato can thrive in harsh environments and deliver 10 percent of caloric needs of a person. Collaboration is at work between scientists from the International Potato Center in Peru, NASA, and engineers at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lima for conducting advanced experiments in growing nutrient-rich spuds at Mars-like conditions. Compared with Earth, Mars gets less sunlight. Therefore, temperature and pressure are lower than that on Earth. Many variants of potatoes are under test for zeroing in on the best that can brave Martian conditions. That will help future astronauts to Mars to skip the effort at building warmer conditions equivalent to Earth. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: www.washingtonpost.com

Top Trump officials are feuding over whether the United States should stay in — or exit — the historic Paris climate agreement. The president, who promised to “cancel” Paris during the election campaign, has faced calls from oil, gas and even some coal companies for the United States to remain a party to an accord endorsed by nearly 200 countries. But many conservatives and climate-change doubters have continued to urge Trump to keep his election pledge and quit the agreement. The White House has suggested that Trump would make his decision about the fate of the Paris agreement by late May, when leaders of the Group of Seven major economies are expected to gather in Taormina, Italy. But a decision could also emerge from a meeting of his top advisers that was postponed Tuesday and could take place as early as next week, according to Republican lobbyists. The meeting — whose new date, for now, remains unclear — was charged with offering recommendations to Trump, the White House said. But spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that while the advisers “wanted to have that conversation,” it had been put off because of “scheduling conflicts,” including several top officials traveling with the president to Wisconsin for an event. The Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, said last week that he believes the United States should “exit” the deal, which is seen as a key part of President Barack Obama’s legacy. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, is also viewed as an opponent of the agreement. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued in his Senate confirmation hearing that the United States should maintain a “seat at the table” in international climate talks. Others, including National Economic Council head Gary Cohn, who held a White House meeting about a possible carbon tax, Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, are also considered supportive of the deal. At a minimum, said one GOP consultant close to the White House, Trump is likely to cut off contributions that President Obama was making to the Green Climate Fund under the international accord, a key mechanism by which wealthier developed countries are supposed to help developing nations adjust to climate change and adopt clean-energy technologies to cut their emissions. Continued international uncertainty about the Trump administration’s stand has been a source of friction at international summits. At the Group of Seven energy ministerial meeting last week, the United States would not endorse a statement about climate change because the Trump administration has still not laid out a formal policy position. Meanwhile, a number of industry voices have rallied behind the deal. Tillerson’s former company, ExxonMobil, argued to the White House recently that the United States should stay in the agreement and that it does not pose a competitiveness risk to domestic energy industries. On Monday, Cheniere Energy, the United States’ first liquefied natural gas exporter, wrote to David Banks, White House special assistant to the president for international energy and environment, to similarly argue that “domestic energy companies are better positioned to compete globally if the United States remains a party to the Paris Agreement.” Even the major coal company Cloud Peak Energy is now on record supporting the accord. But Trump faces competing pressure to leave it, too. On Tuesday, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative advocacy group, released an ad urging Trump to jettison the Paris climate deal. The ad includes footage of Trump on the campaign trail, promising to “cancel” the Paris deal. “Mr. President, don’t listen to the swamp,” it goes on to say. “Keep your promise. Withdraw from the Paris climate treaty.” In a statement accompanying the ad’s release, CEI’s Myron Ebell — who headed up Trump’s EPA transition team — said exiting the Paris agreement is an integral part of the new administration’s push to unravel Obama-era environmental regulations. “The Paris Climate Treaty requires the United States to make drastic cuts in fossil fuel energy use by 2025, which will raise energy prices and slow economic recovery from our decade-long slump,” Ebell said. “It also requires us to submit more ambitious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions every five years. Failure to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty will make President Trump’s plans to undo Obama’s climate agenda vulnerable to legal challenges.” One utility industry lobbyist, Michael McKenna, argued in a note that “the fundamental purpose of the Paris Agreement is to drive developed nations toward environmental regimes that are mathematically incompatible with economic growth.” He said the accord allowed other nations to increase their overall emissions. “Mr. Kushner must know that an obviously broken campaign pledge will impair the President’s ability to be reelected,” McKenna wrote. “He probably also knows (or will know) that there is no mechanism — absent withdrawal — that allows the sort of reworking the agreement that some in the Administration have suggested is possible.” The Paris climate accord has been described as a “bottom-up” approach in which individual countries come forward with their own pledges to the international community to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Parties are expected to ramp up ambitions over time, acknowledging that it will take considerable effort to put the world on a path to limit the planet’s warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, as the Paris accord prescribes. With the current Paris pledges alone, the planet is still forecast to warm by 2.6 to 3.1 degrees Celsius (4.68 to 5.58 degrees Fahrenheit), according to one scientific analysis, which would have profound impacts. The administration could try to remain a party to the Paris agreement but revise downward the United States’ ambitious emissions pledge to the world. That is precisely the path recently advocated by Trump campaign energy adviser Kevin Cramer, a congressman from North Dakota. The Obama administration committed to lowering emissions by 26 to 28 percent below their 2005 levels by 2025. That’s presumably out of the question given Trump’s coal-friendly energy policies, but a more moderate promise may not be. The agreement also requires a lengthy waiting period for any party to exit the accord once it has come into force. Parties cannot withdraw for three years, and then there’s another year’s wait time after that — the length of a presidential term. Some conservatives have argued that the United States can exit more quickly by quitting the broader diplomatic superstructure for addressing the climate problem — namely, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. If the administration does stick with the Paris agreement, Trump energy policy rollbacks and, most importantly, the presumed demise of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan would force a less ambitious emissions goal, according to analysts of the United States’ greenhouse gas trajectory. “If the current policy intentions of the Trump administration come into effect, it will be impossible to meet the [nationally determined contribution] that was originally made by the Obama administration,” said Niklas Höhne, a founder of the New Climate Institute and professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. “Not that the Trump administration would fully reverse existing trends on renewables or efficient cars, but because it will prevent new policies in other areas planned by the Obama administration from being implemented.” Ellie Johnston of Climate Interactive, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., provided The Post with an analysis showing that the United States could cut its emissions by 3 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025 even without the Clean Power Plan and a number of other planned Obama policies if it adheres to an international accord limiting highly polluting gases known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. That scenario also assumed that ambitious climate policies continue in California, a U.S. leader in emissions reductions. A pledge to cut emissions by only 3 percent would be sure to draw international scorn — although the United States might not be the only major emitter caught downgrading its ambitions. Brazil, in particular, has seen a recent increase in the rate of deforestation, a major contributor to climate change. Whether or not the Trump administration decides to stay in the Paris agreement, many in the international community are assuming that the U.S. government’s leading role on climate action is over for the foreseeable future. “It’s clear that we cannot expect the same kind of leadership from the U.S. following the change in administration,” Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union’s climate action and energy commissioner, said in an email. “What is clear is that while some look back, the E.U., China and many other major economies look ahead. For us, the Paris Agreement is not a bad deal, it is a good deal. It is not a blast from the past but a promise for a better future.” Cañete said that while climate action from the world’s major economies is “more important than ever,” he remains confident that other countries will keep pushing forward with efforts to slash global carbon emissions, even if the United States is no longer leading the charge. “Not only because we all see climate change as a matter of national and global security, a multiplying factor of social and political fragility, and a root cause for the displacement of people,” he said. “But because that tackling climate change and reforming our energy systems are significant drivers of job creation, investment opportunities and economic growth.” The White House’s climate debate comes even as the planet continues to signal that fast changes are afoot. NASA just photographed a new crack in one of Greenland’s largest glaciers, Petermann, suggesting that the rate of ice loss from the vast ice sheet could continue to grow in coming years, further raising sea levels. And on Monday, scientists published a striking study showing that in Canada’s Yukon territory, the retreat of a glacier had actually caused the rerouting of an entire river — an apparent first when it comes to mega-scale effects of human-caused global warming. More from Energy and Environment: Scientists just found a strange and worrying crack in one of Greenland’s biggest glaciers EPA plans to offer buyouts as part of Trump push to shrink workforce Humans have filled the pristine Arctic ocean with 300 billion pieces of floating plastic For more, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter here and follow us on Twitter here.


News Article | March 3, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

The Amazon rainforest is among the world's richest biological reservoirs consisting of wide range of flora and fauna. Latest study suggests that the ancient humans did cultivation and plantation in some parts of the huge rainforest, which has shaped the Amazon landscape in some way. The tree species domesticated by the ancient humans are still dominating the large regions of the rainforest. Researchers believe that several tree species populating the Amazon region were cultivated by ancient people more than five centuries before Europeans came and settled down. The ancient ones mainly cultivated the Brazil nut, cacao, rubber, acai palm, cashew, caimito and tucuma palm. Carolina Levis, lead author of the study and also a palaeoecologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, along with her team conducted the study. During the research, the team used data shared by Amazon Tree Diversity Network to examine the biodiversity in the rainforest. The Network had previously identified 4,962 palm and tree species in the rainforest. The team observed 85 domesticated woody species, out of which Levis discovered that around 20 of them were over-represented. These species consisted mostly of Brazil nuts and cocoa plants. The researchers were curious of the influence factor that had led to this growth. Two possible factors that were considered by the researchers were human influence or environmental conditions. Consequently, the research team used data on the domesticated species and compared it to more than 3,000 identified archaeological sites belonging to the pre-Columbian era and probable settlement sites like river banks. The findings highlight the organized relationship between the ecology of the environment and the ancient humans. The study reveals that around 85 tree species were used by Amazonian people for fruit, nuts and other building purposes over the past 8000 years. These species dominated the mature Amazon forests as compared to the undomesticated species. The study also revealed that 20 percent of the plantation distribution in the rainforests was determined by human influences. On the other hand, 30 percent was likely affected by several environmental factors one of which could be soil composition. Nevertheless, human activities influenced 30 percent of the plant distribution in the area which was largely inhabited by pre-Columbian populations which is the southwestern Amazon. Here, the environmental conditions did not affect much of the plantation, counting to just 10 percent. Levis suggested that these ecosystems need to be treasured and preserved, since they are under major threat from deforestation. Various deforestation actions are haunting the rainforest for the production of lumber or for making way for plantations of exotic crops like soybeans. Conclusively, Levis noted that the Amazon is not an untamed forest, rather it is an ecosystem inhabited by humans for ages. The actions of populating humans have left several marks on the Amazon land. The findings of the research have been published in the journal Science. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: www.nature.com

The world has more than 50,000 edible plants. But 90% of the world's energy demands are fulfilled by just 15 crops, according to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. About two-thirds of our calorie intake is provided by three: rice, maize (corn) and wheat. Dependency on a handful of crops is problematic. In cultivating countless generations of a few staples, we have inadvertently lost some of their most valuable properties. Modern crops are susceptible to changing climatic conditions, for example, and are heavily affected by pests, which can claim 30–40% of global production of staple crops such as maize, rice and potatoes1 and call for ever-stronger pesticides. The nutritional content of what we grow is also declining. “Breeding and intensified cultivation for high yield tend to reduce the concentration of nutrients,” says Donald Davis, now retired, but who in 2004 documented, with colleagues at the Bio-Communications Research Institute in Wichita, Kansas, the nutritional decline of dozens of fruits and vegetables over a 50-year period2. Modern staples may produce more grain or fruit than their ancestors, but the edible product is not able to absorb or synthesize a corresponding amount of nutrients, Davis explains. In broccoli, for instance, iron has fallen by 32% and zinc by 37% since 1950. “Bigger heads mean lower mineral concentrations,” says Davis. “I always buy the smallest heads I can find.” Demand for food is set to increase over the next few decades (see page S6). To address issues of nutritional quality, scientists are looking to nature for help. Millions of years of adaptation to varied and often extreme environments has created a rich genetic diversity of wild relatives of modern staples. These plants represent an immense library of valuable traits with the potential to improve the quality and resilience of modern crops. Across the globe, researchers are trying to endow domesticated crops with these traits through interbreeding. “Plant-breeding programmes benefit from such genetic diversity by creating new crop varieties that are nutritious, use natural resources more efficiently, and are able to respond to stringent environmental conditions and destructive pests and diseases,” says Nora Castañeda-Álvarez, a plant biologist at the Crop Trust, a non-profit organization in Bonn, Germany. But if the full potential of plant-breeding programmes is to be realized, scientists need to conserve the many wild varieties that are threatened with extinction, before these plants disappear and take their secrets with them. The humble tomato is a staple crop in a large part of the world. It is the third most cultivated vegetable crop, according to the FAO, after potatoes and cassava; in 2014, around 170-million tonnes were produced, belonging to about 7,500 varieties of the species Solanum lycopersicum. But there is room for improvement. Wild tomatoes grow in a wide range of habitats, in defiance of pests and soil quality, and researchers are exploring whether these traits could be transferred to commercial varieties to improve resilience. A commercial tomato that could naturally fight off pests would be a major asset. Peter Hanson and Mohamed Rakha, plant geneticists at the World Vegetable Centre in Tainan, Taiwan, are using the wild tomato species Solanum pimpinellifolium, Solanum galapagense and Solanum cheesmaniae, all of which are found on the Galapagos Islands, to create new tomato varieties that are resistant to multiple diseases and insect pests. These wild tomatoes can fight off insects thanks to small hair-like structures called glandular trichomes that cover the leaves and stems. “These trichomes produce acyl sugars and other compounds that repel or are toxic to a wide range of insects,” says Hanson. Endowing a commercial tomato with these insect-repelling hairs involves 'back-crossing' with one of the wild species. Hanson is using a tomato elite line (a stock of pure seeds with certain traits) called CLN3682C, which is already resistant to bacterial wilt, tomato yellow leaf curl virus, root-knot nematodes and fusarium wilt. The plants that result from a cross are screened to identify those that carry the wild trait of interest as well as those already held by the elite variety, explains Hanson. If the wild insect-resistance traits have been genetically sequenced, selection can be accelerated — rather than monitoring expression, researchers can simply look for the presence of the gene or allele, known as marker-assisted selection. The selected plants are then crossed with each other, and the subsequent generation crossed with the elite variety to increase the odds of a plant carrying every possible desirable trait. “Insect-resistant varieties must also produce high yields of high-quality fruit,” says Hanson. This whole process is repeated for each wild species, so it takes time. “Each cross and selection takes most of a year to complete,” says Hanson. He estimates it will take about five years before a commercial tomato variety bearing the wild traits of insect resistance is available. In 2016, Mark Tester, a plant biologist at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, and PhD student Yveline Pailles found that S. galapagense and S. cheesmaniae are also able to thrive in highly salty soils3. The aim now is to breed this trait into commercial lines. “Tomatoes are the world's biggest horticultural crop, by far, and they use a lot of water,” says Tester. Commercial tomatoes need fresh water — an increasingly limited resource. “A major water source that is currently unused is brackish water,” he says. “This is the driver of my research.” He estimates that new lines of salt-tolerant tomatoes could reach breeders in a couple of years. Researchers are also improving the nutritional properties of tomatoes. In 2003, Hanson and colleagues released two tomato varieties in Taiwan that were bred to pack up to six times more vitamin A than the average tomato. The source of this, as well as their characteristic orange colour, is a gene called Beta, discovered in the wild tomato Solanum habrochaites in 1950, Hanson explains. “We hope our high-beta carotene cherry tomato varieties can become popular in home gardens in countries like Bangladesh where vitamin A deficiency is a problem, especially among children,” Hanson says. But demand in the first ten years has been poor. Hanson attributes this to difficulties in convincing people that orange-fleshed tomatoes are as good and tasty as the familiar red varieties. “The key factor is creating consumer demand,” he says, but a lack of resources has hampered the promotion of his tomatoes. At Oregon State University in Corvallis, vegetable breeder and geneticist Jim Myers is also creating more-nutritious tomatoes. He has bred purple tomatoes that are rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins. Tomato breeders have been trying to generate an anthocyanin-rich variety from various wild species, including Solanum lycopersicoides, Solanum peruvianum, Solanum chilense and S. cheesmaniae, for half a century, with little success. The one variety produced from these efforts, the Purple Smudge, was created in the 1950s and only weakly expresses anthocyanin-producing genes. Myers and his team crossed S. chilense and S. cheesmaniae. “If we combine the genes from the two wild species, then we obtain a dramatic increase in pigment expression — tomatoes as black as an eggplant,” Myers says. The result is the Indigo Rose, which contains between 10 and 30 milligrams of anthocyanin per 100 g of fresh fruit; the average tomato contains none. There are more than 20 Indigo Rose cultivars commercially available in the United States, most of which have been bred from the original lines that Myers created. Breeding wild traits into commercial crops is a lengthy process. To speed things up, neglected crops can be used in their entirety (see 'Investment in indigenous crops') or commercial plants can be genetically modified (GM). Indigo Rose tomatoes are not classed as GM — Myers used only conventional breeding techniques. Genetic modification techniques allow researchers to insert genes of wild varieties directly into plants, greatly increasing the speed at which new cultivars can be created. Genes can also be sourced from different organisms, such as bacteria. “At that point, the possibilities of introducing new characteristics into our crops will be, in principle, unlimited,” says Francesca Quattrocchio, a plant geneticist at the University of Amsterdam. But although GM crops are accepted in Australia, the United States and most of South America, there is significant opposition elsewhere. GM crops are either banned or have to go through an intensive authorization process in many European and African countries. Any time saved in the creation of a new variety through genetic modification is lost by hold ups further down the line, and restrictions on who can use it. The valuable genetic diversity held in wild-crop relatives could be at risk, however. More than 70% of wild relatives have been identified as being in urgent need of conservation4. As a whole, around 20% of the world's plants are threatened with extinction5. The expansion of agriculture into natural ecosystems is one of the leading causes of this decline, Castañeda-Álvarez says. And plant species in the tropics are twice as likely to be threatened as those in temperate regions5. “These plants and animal breeds have developed and survived because they were best adapted to a given territory,” says Edie Mukiibi, vice president of Slow Food International, an organization in Bra, Italy, that works to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures. “We must take care of this biodiversity because it represents the best of several millennia of agriculture.” The International Potato Center in Lima is seeking to protect potato varieties in situ through their Chirapaq Ñan network. The idea, says Severin Pohlreich, a plant geneticist at the centre, is to record locations across Peru, Bolivia and Chile with a rich diversity of potato varieties. “This network will help enable and support in situ conservation monitoring of the world's largest potato gene pool, right at its centre of diversity,” he says. Other projects focus on conserving wild varieties outside their natural habitats. Around the world, about 1,750 gene banks, as well as botanical gardens, hold more than 7.4 million seeds or plant tissues from thousands of crop species. Nearly 90% of these samples are held in national gene banks — the Centre for Genetic Resources (CGN), part of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, for instance, currently holds one of world's largest and most diverse collection of lettuces. To protect against the loss of seeds in collections such as these, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault acts as a backup. Located deep in a mountain on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, the bank has capacity for 2.5 billion seeds; currently, it holds more than 880,000 samples, representing the world's major food crops. The seeds are meant to be used only in an emergency — be it a major catastrophe or incremental loss of diversity over time. “Each gene bank prepares a duplicate of their collection and sends this to Svalbard,” explains Castañeda-Álvarez. “External users, like you and me, can't make seed requests directly to Svalbard — this can only be made through the corresponding gene bank in case of emergency,” she says. The only withdrawal so far was made by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in 2015, to re-establish its collection after it relocated its gene bank to Lebanon and Morocco from Aleppo, Syria. In February, ICARDA returned more than 15,000 seeds to Svalbard. The Crop Trust, which is responsible for the vault, sees the preservation of crop diversity as a crucial means of attaining global food security. The trust also heads a US$50-million research initiative on crop wild relatives, in collaboration with the UK's Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a number of breeders and researchers around the world. The ten-year initiative launched in 2011 and is funded by the Norwegian government. The aim of the project is to collect and preserve more than 450 wild relatives of 29 priority crops, says Hannes Dempewolf, Head of Global Initiatives at the Crop Trust. In the long term, the plan is to breed a new generation of superior crops that carry one or more of the desirable traits of their wild relatives. Pre-breeding programmes — in which genetic traits are isolated and introduced into breeding lines that are easier to cross with commercial varieties than wild plants — have been established for 19 wild relatives, including aubergines and rice. Wild-crop relatives look set to be a part of the answer to the food-insecurity problem, whether they are used to form new crops or growers simply make better use of the neglected crops already available to them. “The genetic diversity available in wild varieties is, at the moment, the best solution,” says Quattrocchio, at least until GM crops gain wider acceptance. Castañeda-Álvarez agrees, “Crop wild relatives can help us to continue producing more sustainable food, in the amount and quality the world needs.” But first, she says, “we need to conserve them to secure their availability”.


Verhulst E.C.,Wageningen University | Van de zande L.,University of Groningen
Briefings in Functional Genomics | Year: 2015

In recent years, our knowledge of the conserved master-switch gene doublesex (dsx) and its function in regulating the development of dimorphic traits in insects has deepened considerably. Here, a comprehensive overview is given on the properties of the male- and female-specific dsx transcripts yielding DSXF and DSXM proteins in Drosophila melanogaster, and the many downstream targets that they regulate. As insects have cell-autonomous sex determination, it was assumed that dsx would be expressed in every somatic cell, but recent research showed that dsx is expressed only when a cell is required to show its sexual identity through function or morphology. This spatiotemporal regulation of dsx expression has not only been established in D. melanogaster but in all insect species studied. Gradually, it has been appreciated that dsx could no longer be viewed as the master-switch gene orchestrating sexual development and behaviour in each cell, but instead should be viewed as the interpreter for the sexual identity of the cell, expressing this identity only on request, making dsx the central nexus of insect sex determination. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press.


Croce R.,University of Groningen | Van Amerongen H.,Wageningen University
Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology | Year: 2011

Photosystem II (PSII) is responsible for the water oxidation in photosynthesis and it consists of many proteins and pigment-protein complexes in a variable composition, depending on environmental conditions. Sunlight-induced charge separation lies at the basis of the photochemical reactions and it occurs in the reaction center (RC). The RC is located in the PSII core which also contains light-harvesting complexes CP43 and CP47. The PSII core of plants is surrounded by external light-harvesting complexes (lhcs) forming supercomplexes, which together with additional external lhcs, are located in the thylakoid membrane where they perform their functions. In this paper we provide an overview of the available information on the structure and organization of pigment-protein complexes in PSII and relate this to experimental and theoretical results on excitation energy transfer (EET) and charge separation (CS). This is done for different subcomplexes, supercomplexes, PSII membranes and thylakoid membranes. Differences in experimental and theoretical results are discussed and the question is addressed how results and models for individual complexes relate to the results on larger systems. It is shown that it is still very difficult to combine all available results into one comprehensive picture. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Wientjes Y.C.J.,Animal Breeding and Genomics Center | Wientjes Y.C.J.,Wageningen University | Veerkamp R.F.,Animal Breeding and Genomics Center | Calus M.P.L.,Animal Breeding and Genomics Center
Genetics | Year: 2013

Although the concept of genomic selection relies on linkage disequilibrium (LD) between quantitative trait loci and markers, reliability of genomic predictions is strongly influenced by family relationships. In this study, we investigated the effects of LD and family relationships on reliability of genomic predictions and the potential of deterministic formulas to predict reliability using population parameters in populations with complex family structures. Five groups of selection candidates were simulated by taking different information sources from the reference population into account: (1) allele frequencies, (2) LD pattern, (3) haplotypes, (4) haploid chromosomes, and (5) individuals from the reference population, thereby having real family relationships with reference individuals. Reliabilities were predicted using genomic relationships among 529 reference individuals and their relationships with selection candidates and with a deterministic formula where the number of effective chromosome segments (Me) was estimated based on genomic and additive relationship matrices for each scenario. At a heritability of 0.6, reliabilities based on genomic relationships were 0.002 ±0.0001 (allele frequencies), 0.022 ± 0.001 (LD pattern), 0.018 ±0.001 (haplotypes), 0.100 ± 0.008 (haploid chromosomes), and 0.318 ± 0.077 (family relationships). At a heritability of 0.1, relative differences among groups were similar. For all scenarios, reliabilities were similar to predictions with a deterministic formula using estimated Me. So, reliabilities can be predicted accurately using empirically estimated Me and level of relationship with reference individuals has a much higher effect on the reliability than linkage disequilibrium per se. Furthermore, accumulated length of shared haplotypes is more important in determining the reliability of genomic prediction than the individual shared haplotype length. © 2013 by the Genetics Society of America.


Stotz H.U.,University of Hertfordshire | Mitrousia G.K.,University of Hertfordshire | de Wit P.J.G.M.,Wageningen University | Fitt B.D.L.,University of Hertfordshire
Trends in Plant Science | Year: 2014

R gene-mediated host resistance against apoplastic fungal pathogens is not adequately explained by the terms pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP)-triggered immunity (PTI) or effector-triggered immunity (ETI). Therefore, it is proposed that this type of resistance is termed 'effector-triggered defence' (ETD). Unlike PTI and ETI, ETD is mediated by R genes encoding cell surface-localised receptor-like proteins (RLPs) that engage the receptor-like kinase SOBIR1. In contrast to this extracellular recognition, ETI is initiated by intracellular detection of pathogen effectors. ETI is usually associated with fast, hypersensitive host cell death, whereas ETD often triggers host cell death only after an elapsed period of endophytic pathogen growth. In this opinion, we focus on ETD responses against foliar fungal pathogens of crops. © 2014 The Authors.


Koornneef M.,Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research | Koornneef M.,Wageningen University | Meinke D.,Oklahoma State University
Plant Journal | Year: 2010

Summary Twenty-five years ago, Arabidopsis thaliana emerged as the model organism of choice for research in plant biology. A consensus was reached about the need to focus on a single organism to integrate the classical disciplines of plant science with the expanding fields of genetics and molecular biology. Ten years after publication of its genome sequence, Arabidopsis remains the standard reference plant for all of biology. We reflect here on the major advances and shared resources that led to the extraordinary growth of the Arabidopsis research community. We also underscore the importance of continuing to expand and refine our detailed knowledge of Arabidopsis while seeking to appreciate the remarkable diversity that characterizes the plant kingdom. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Berton-Carabin C.C.,Wageningen University | Ropers M.-H.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research | Genot C.,French National Institute for Agricultural Research
Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety | Year: 2014

More polyunsaturated fats in processed foods and fewer additives are a huge demand of public health agencies and consumers. Consequently, although foods have an enhanced tendency to oxidize, the usage of antioxidants, especially synthetic antioxidants, is restrained. An alternate solution is to better control the localization of reactants inside the food matrix to limit oxidation. This review establishes the state-of-the-art on lipid oxidation in oil-in-water (O/W) emulsions, with an emphasis on the role of the interfacial region, a critical area in the system in that respect. We first provide a summary on the essential basic knowledge regarding (i) the structure of O/W emulsions and interfaces and (ii) the general mechanisms of lipid oxidation. Then, we discuss the factors involved in the development of lipid oxidation in O/W emulsions with a special focus on the role played by the interfacial region. The multiple effects that can be attributed to emulsifiers according to their chemical structure and their location, and the interrelationships between the parameters that define the physicochemistry and structure of emulsions are highlighted. This work sheds new light on the interpretation of reported results that are sometimes ambiguous or contradictory. © 2014 Institute of Food Technologists®.


Boonekamp J.J.,University of Groningen | Simons M.J.P.,University of Groningen | Hemerik L.,Wageningen University | Verhulst S.,University of Groningen
Aging Cell | Year: 2013

Biomarkers of aging are essential to predict mortality and agingrelated diseases. Paradoxically, age itself imposes a limitation on the use of known biomarkers of aging because their associations with mortality generally diminish with age. How this pattern arises is, however, not understood. With meta-analysis we show that human leucocyte telomere length (TL) predicts mortality, and that this mortality association diminishes with age, as found for other biomarkers of aging. Subsequently, we demonstrate with simulation models that this observation cannot be reconciled with the popular hypothesis that TL is proportional to biological age. Using the reliability theory of aging, we instead propose that TL is a biomarker of somatic redundancy, the body's capacity to absorb damage, which fits the observed pattern well. We discuss to what extent diminishing redundancy with age may also explain the observed diminishing mortality modulation with age of other biomarkers of aging. Considering diminishing somatic redundancy as the causal agent of aging may critically advance our understanding of the aging process, and improve predictions of life expectancy and vulnerability to aging-related diseases. © 2013 The Authors. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.


Chanput W.,Kasetsart University | Mes J.J.,Wageningen University | Wichers H.J.,Wageningen University
International Immunopharmacology | Year: 2014

THP-1 is a human leukemia monocytic cell line, which has been extensively used to study monocyte/macrophage functions, mechanisms, signaling pathways, and nutrient and drug transport. This cell line has become a common model to estimate modulation of monocyte and macrophage activities. This review attempts to summarize and discuss recent publications related to the THP-1 cell model. An overview on the biological similarities and dissimilarities between the THP-1 cell line and human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) derived-monocytes and macrophages, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the use of THP-1 cell line, is included. The review summarizes different published co-cultivation studies of THP-1 cells with other cell types, for instance, intestinal cells, adipocytes, T-lymphocytes, platelets, and vascular smooth muscle cells, which can be an option to study cell-cell interaction in vitro and can be an approach to better mimic in vivo conditions. Macrophage polarization is a relatively new topic which gains interest for which the THP-1 cell line also may be relevant. Besides that an overview of newly released commercial THP-1 engineered-reporter cells and THP-1 inflammasome test-cells is also given. Evaluation of recent papers leads to the conclusion that the THP-1 cell line has unique characteristics as a model to investigate/estimate immune-modulating effects of compounds in both activated and resting conditions of the cells. Although the THP-1 response can hint to potential responses that might occur ex vivo or in vivo, these should be, however, validated by in vivo studies to draw more definite conclusions. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Lubbers I.M.,Wageningen University | Van Groenigen K.J.,Northern Arizona University | Fonte S.J.,Aereo | Six J.,University of California at Davis | And 2 more authors.
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2013

Earthworms play an essential part in determining the greenhouse-gas balance of soils worldwide, and their influence is expected to grow over the next decades. They are thought to stimulate carbon sequestration in soil aggregates, but also to increase emissions of the main greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Hence, it remains highly controversial whether earthworms predominantly affect soils to act as a net source or sink of greenhouse gases. Here, we provide a quantitative review of the overall effect of earthworms on the soil greenhouse-gas balance. Our results suggest that although earthworms are largely beneficial to soil fertility, they increase net soil greenhouse-gas emissions. Copyright © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited.


Driever S.M.,University of Essex | Baker N.R.,University of Essex | Baker N.R.,Wageningen University
Plant, Cell and Environment | Year: 2011

Electron flux from water via photosystem II (PSII) and PSI to oxygen (water-water cycle) may provide a mechanism for dissipation of excess excitation energy in leaves when CO2 assimilation is restricted. Mass spectrometry was used to measure O2 uptake and evolution together with CO2 uptake in leaves of French bean and maize at CO2 concentrations saturating for photosynthesis and the CO2 compensation point. In French bean at high CO2 and low O2 concentrations no significant water-water cycle activity was observed. At the CO2 compensation point and 3% O2 a low rate of water-water cycle activity was observed, which accounted for 30% of the linear electron flux from water. In maize leaves negligible water-water cycle activity was detected at the compensation point. During induction of photosynthesis in maize linear electron flux was considerably greater than CO2 assimilation, but no significant water-water cycle activity was detected. Miscanthus×giganteus grown at chilling temperature also exhibited rates of linear electron transport considerably in excess of CO2 assimilation; however, no significant water-water cycle activity was detected. Clearly the water-water cycle can operate in leaves under some conditions, but it does not act as a major sink for excess excitation energy when CO2 assimilation is restricted. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Verbesselt J.,Wageningen University | Zeileis A.,University of Innsbruck | Herold M.,Wageningen University
Remote Sensing of Environment | Year: 2012

Near real-time monitoring of ecosystem disturbances is critical for rapidly assessing and addressing impacts on carbon dynamics, biodiversity, and socio-ecological processes. Satellite remote sensing enables cost-effective and accurate monitoring at frequent time steps over large areas. Yet, generic methods to detect disturbances within newly captured satellite images are lacking. We propose a multi-purpose time-series-based disturbance detection approach that identifies and models stable historical variation to enable change detection within newly acquired data. Satellite image time series of vegetation greenness provide a global record of terrestrial vegetation productivity over the past decades. Here, we assess and demonstrate the method by applying it to (1) simulated time series of vegetation greenness data from satellite data, (2) real-world satellite greenness image time series between February 2000 and July 2011 covering Somalia to detect drought-related vegetation disturbances. First, simulation results illustrate that disturbances are successfully detected in near real-time while being robust to seasonality and noise. Second, major drought-related disturbance corresponding with most drought-stressed regions in Somalia are detected from mid-2010 onwards. The method can analyse in-situ or satellite data time series of biophysical indicators from local to global scale since it is fast, does not depend on thresholds and does not require time series gap filling. While the data and methods used are appropriate for proof-of-concept development of global scale disturbance monitoring, specific applications (e.g., drought or deforestation monitoring) mandate integration within an operational monitoring framework (e.g., http://www.fews.net/). © 2012 Elsevier Inc..


Mol A.P.J.,Wageningen University
Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning | Year: 2013

With its recently published 12th Five-Year Plan (FYP, 2011-2015) China's leaders have set ambitious national environmental targets and goals for developing a more sustainable economy and society. Past records, however, show that ambitious goals and regulations too often fail due to shortcomings in local implementation and civil society participation. At the sub-national level, economic, political, and social interests continue to dictate the political agenda and the participation of non-state actors remains limited. This article analyses these implementation and participation gaps and reviews recent innovations and experiments to address these gaps in local environmental politics in China. Although many ongoing experiments and new institutional arrangements can be identified, these projects and initiatives remain limited in scope and geographical spread. Further advances in policy enforcement and in opening up policy design to citizens and other non-state actors at the local level are needed in order to turn the article ambitions of the 12th FYP into reality. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


Scott T.W.,University of California at Davis | Scott T.W.,U.S. National Institutes of Health | Takken W.,Wageningen University
Trends in Parasitology | Year: 2012

Vector-borne disease specialists have traditionally assumed that in each egg-laying cycle mosquitoes take a single bloodmeal that is used for egg development and feed on plant sugars for flight and production of energy reserves. Here we review research showing that for two of the most important vectors of human pathogens (Anopheles gambiae and Aedes aegypti) imbibing multiple bloodmeals during a gonotrophic cycle while foregoing sugar feeding is a common behaviour, not an exception. By feeding preferentially and frequently on human blood these species increase their fitness and exponentially boost the basic reproduction rate of pathogens they transmit. Although the epidemiological outcome is similar, there are important differences in processes underlying frequent human contact by these species that merit more detailed investigation. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Klomp J.,Wageningen University | De Haan J.,University of Groningen
American Journal of Agricultural Economics | Year: 2013

We examine the effect of elections and government ideology on public funding to the agricultural sector using a panel model for more than 70 democratic countries from 1975-2009. We find that support for agriculture increases prior to elections, and that right-wing governments redistribute more income to the agricultural sector than left-wing governments. Political cycles are conditional on certain factors; for example, elections have a stronger effect on support under right-wing cabinets. Further, in industrialized countries, the election (partisan) effect is strongest under majoritarian (proportional) electoral systems. In developing countries, the election (partisan) effect is strongest under proportional (majoritarian) electoral systems. © The Author (2013). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. All rights reserved.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2010-ITN | Award Amount: 3.37M | Year: 2011

Nematodes are among the most serious threats to livestock. They cause disease and death but they also compromise production. Even a mild infection can cause a relative protein deficiency and reduce weight gain by 25% . In the UK sheep industry alone, nematode infection costs over 100 million Euros a year . The mainstay of current control measures is anthelmintic treatment but this is threatened by the evolution of drug resistance in parasite populations. Alternative or supplementary control measures are urgently needed. The most promising option for control of nematodes is exploitation of genetic variation which is cheap, surprisingly rapid and has proved to be successful in Australia and New Zealand. There are two obstacles to exploiting genetic variation in resistance to nematodes. Many farmers lack expertise in breeding for disease resistance; simplified breeding strategies that utilise markers for disease resistance will help here. Also, there are concerns about sustainability of breeding for resistance to nematodes. A systems biology approach is necessary in order to develop the comprehensive understanding necessary to simplify breeding to ensure that disease control is likely to be sustainable. A systems approach will also help to identify the most suitable combination of approaches under different circumstances. Systems biology combines a variety of disciplines in a quantitative way to achieve a coherent, consistent and comprehensive understanding of host-parasite relationships. This project aims to identify markers for host resistance to nematodes and to enhance our understanding of the host-parasite interaction. We will train a cadre of researchers with the necessary skills to apply quantitative approaches to parasitology and with the essential experience to apply this knowledge to the livestock sector.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2011.1.1-01 | Award Amount: 7.75M | Year: 2012

In the midst of a climatic change scenario, the genetics of adaptive response in conifers becomes essential to ensure a sustainable management of genetic resources and an effective breeding. Conifers are the target of major tree breeding efforts worldwide. Advances in molecular technologies, such as next-generation DNA sequencing technologies, could have an enormous impact on the rate of progress and achievements made by tree breeding programmes. These new technologies might be used not only to improve our understanding of fundamental conifer biology, but also to address practical problems for the forest industry as well as problems related to the adaptation and management of conifer forests. In this context, ProCoGen will address genome sequencing of two keystone European conifer species. Genome re-sequencing approaches will be used to obtain two reference pine genomes. Comparative genomics and genetic diversity will be closely integrated and linked to targeted functional genomics investigations to identify genes and gene networks that efficiently help to develop or enhance applications related to forest productivity, forest stewardship in response to environmental change or conservation efforts. The development of high-throughput genotyping tools will produce an array of pre-breeding tools to be implemented in forest tree breeding programmes. ProCoGen will also develop comparative studies based on orthologous sequences, genes and markers, which will allow guiding re-sequencing initiatives and exploiting the research accumulated on each of the species under consideration to accelerate the use of genomic tools in diverse species. ProCoGen will integrate fragmented activities developed by European research groups involved in several ongoing international conifer genome initiatives and contribute to strengthening international collaboration with North American initiatives (US and Canada).


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: FI.ICT-2011.1.8 | Award Amount: 7.36M | Year: 2011

The SmartAgriFood project addresses the food and agribusiness as a use case for the Future Internet. The intelligence, efficiency, sustainability and performance of the agri-food sector can be radically enhanced by using information & decision support systems that are tightly integrated with advanced internet-based networks & services. Concurrently, the sector provides extremely demanding use cases for Future Internet design from physical layer all the way up to the service layer. This project will focus on three sub systems of the sector - smart farming, focussing on sensors and traceability; smart agri-logistics, focusing on real-time virtualisation, connectivity and logistics intelligence; and smart food awareness, focussing on transparency of data and knowledge representation. Using a user-centred methodology, the use case specification will be developed with a particular focus on transparency and interoperability of data and knowledge across the food supply chain. Project results will include:\n-Use Case descriptions for smart farming, including sophisticated and robust broadband sensing and monitoring of animals and plants\n-Use Case descriptions for smart agri-logistics, including intelligent transport and real-time logistics of agri-food products\n-Use Case descriptions of smart food awareness, focussing enabling the consumer with information concerning safety, health, environmental impact and animal welfare\n-Identification of generic requirements for the generic enablers\n-Extensive community and user organisation involvement both in requirements gathering, pilot demonstration, and evaluation\n-Specification of interfaces and functionalities for integration to Core Platform,\n-Significant contributions to standardisation and regulatory bodies in Europe.\nKey features of SmartAgriFood concepts will be demonstrated and verified by simulations and experimental systems within this project and by large scale demonstration as intended in Phase II.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRAIA-1-2014-2015 | Award Amount: 9.71M | Year: 2015

AQUAEXCEL2020 aims to integrate top class European aquaculture research facilities of very diverse nature, covering all relevant scientific fields for research and innovation in aquaculture, from genetics to technology through pathology, physiology and nutrition. It will put in place a user-friendly one-stop access to high-quality services and resources from 39 installations covering both established and new aquaculture species, all types of experimental systems as well as sequencing facilities. Giving a prominent place to EU aquaculture industry research needs through a strong involvement of the European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform, it will enable excellent research and sustainable innovation to both public and private sector. It will benefit from the support of the ESFRI infrastructures EMBRC (Marine Biology) and ELIXIR (Life Sciences data) and bring aquaculture research specificities to their agendas. AQUAEXCEL2020 will be a key vehicle in the improvement of aquaculture research practices to the benefit of industry through finalized research and innovation, and of excellent science through the development of highly innovative methods and approaches such as Virtual Laboratories, standardized experimental fish lines and nano-sensors. It will also benefit to society through the development of methods for sustainable aquaculture, such as the use of cleaner fish to control parasites or Integrated Multitrophic Aquaculture, and also through a better management of animal experiments for research according to the 3 Rs, Reduction (via e.g. capitalization of data and provision of stable experimental fish lines), Refinement (via a better control of experimental procedures) and Replacement (via e.g. Virtual Laboratories). As a whole, AQUAEXCEL2020 will provide a world-class platform for all types of fish culture research, from biology to technology, in all types of rearing systems, with all major EU fish species, including the most promising new species.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA | Phase: ICT-2011.3.2 | Award Amount: 1.13M | Year: 2011

The overall objective of FoodMicroSystems is to initiate the implementation of microsystems & smart miniaturised systems in the food sector by improving cooperation between suppliers and users of microsystems for food/beverage quality and safety. The project has five specific objectives:\n\n1.\tTo improve the coordination of national and EU programmes for the development of food applications\n2.\tTo facilitate cooperation of the value chain actors from research to industrialisation of smart systems in the food sector\n3.\tTo promote industrial take-up actions in the food sector\n4.\tTo develop roadmaps linking applications and technologies\n5.\tTo promote international cooperation\n\nThe project is structured into 5 main work- packages (WPs). WP1 (Current state of play) will identify partners for international cooperation as well as examples of existing MST applications in the food sector. WP2 (Research inventory) will provide an analysis of MST research programmes and activities in regards to food applications. WP3 (Food industry demands and constraints) will study the needs of the food industry, the economic and technical constraints, the perception of the consumers as well as the ethical and regulation context. WP4 (Roadmapping) will develop detailed research and application roadmaps for three food chains. WP5 (Communication and exploitation) aims at communicating the projects results through dissemination, presentations, information campaigns and training.\n\nThe consortium includes key research players in both the food and the microsystems sectors. FoodMicroSystems is an open project that will associate industry and other stakeholders in its activities.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2009-2-1-01 | Award Amount: 3.82M | Year: 2010

HabEat will bring together 11 European partners from 6 European countries with a multidisciplinary approach (psychology, epidemiology, behavioural science, nutrition, sensory science) to enable a key breakthrough in the understanding of how food habits are formed (and can also be changed) in infants and young children. This will be done by combining epidemiologic studies based on existing human cohorts from 4 countries and experimental work carried out in 6 countries so as to collaboratively identify: - the critical periods in the formation/breaking of food habits - the key learning mechanisms, their relative impact in the short, mid and long term and their importance according to the different critical periods - the most effective strategies for breaking habits, i.e. for changing from poor to healthy habits - Individual reactions to the learning mechanisms and individual susceptibility to changes Furthermore the project will work hand-in-hand with a board of stakeholder advisors (including industry, health professionals) to produce guidelines on the recommendations that should be communicated to childcare professionals and parents from different target groups (especially those most at risk) in different EU regions. HabEat will also propose strategies to policy makers for promoting practices to ensure healthy food habits in young infants and children as well as intervention strategies for enabling habit breaking taking into account individual differences and parental feeding strategies.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2008.1.3.3.2. | Award Amount: 4.46M | Year: 2009

The aim of IMPRINTS is to contribute to reduce loss of life and economic damage through the improvement of the preparedness and the operational risk management for Flash Flood and Debris Flow [FF/DF] generating events, as well as to contribute to sustainable development through reducing damages to the environment. To achieve this ultimate objective the project is oriented to produce methods and tools to be used by emergency agencies and utility companies responsible for the management of FF/DF risks and associated effects. Impacts of future changes, including climatic, land use and socioeconomic will be analysed in order to provide guidelines for mitigation and adaptation measures. Specifically, the consortium will develop an integrated probabilistic forecasting FF/ DF system as well as a probabilistic early warning and a rule-based probabilistic forecasting system adapted to the operational use by practitioners. These systems will be tested on five selected flash flood prone areas, two located in mountainous catchments in the Alps, and three in Mediterranean catchments. The IMPRINTS practitioner partners, risk management authorities and utility company managers in duty of emergency management in these areas, will supervise these tests. The development of such systems will be carried out using and capitalising the results of previous and ongoing research on FF/DF forecasting and warning systems, in which several of the partners have played a prominent role. One major result of the project will be a operational prototype including the tools and methodologies developed under the project. This prototype will be designed under the premise of its ultimate commercialization and use worldwide. The consortium, covering all the actors involved in the complex chain of FF & DF forecasting, has been carefully selected to ensure the achievement of this. Specific actions to exploit and protect the results and the intellectual property of the partners have been also defined.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2008-1-3-01 | Award Amount: 3.97M | Year: 2009

Low input farming occurs under non-SPF (specific pathogen free) conditions. The European ban on in-feed antibiotics exposes the piglets to a higher microbial environmental pressure. The postnatal priming of piglets with a diverse microbiota may affect the development of the piglets host-defense and gut functionality. By reversal, the piglets developing host-defense may affect the development of the gastro-intestinal microbiota. Moreover, this intricate interplay between gut microbiota and its host during the early phases of life is expected to also affect animal health and performance later in life. The gut microbiome is an immensely diverse ecosystem that has co-evolved with its host. Recent research on microbe-host interactions has provided novel insights into the role of commensal intestinal microbes in several physiological processes, i.e., from epithelial barrier development to immune development as well as neurological aspects. Nevertheless, we only start to understand the molecular mechanisms of the host microbe cross-talk. Recent conceptual as well as technological advances have set the stage for the integrated application of a complementary set of high throughput approaches for the comprehensive profiling of GIT microbiota composition and functionality as well as the animals intestinal function. In a multidisciplinary consortium, comprising 11 public and private partners from across and beyond Europe with complementary expertise in gut microbiomics, immunology and physiology, and animal genomics and nutrition, INTERPLAY will apply an integrated approach to arrive at a sound understanding of the interaction of early colonization of the intestine and the development of gut function. This knowledge will be exploited for the identification of innovative management strategies that address host genotype as well as nutritional means to provide a framework for sustainable animal production at high food and consumer safety and improved animal health and welfare.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2011.3.5-01 | Award Amount: 7.78M | Year: 2011

The project aims at 1 providing baseline data on biodiversity in agro-ecosystems in the EU, 2 translating regional protection goals in measurable assessment endpoints, 3 defining lists of suitable bioindicators for various European regions, 4 improving knowledge on potential long term environmental effects of genetically modified plants (GMPs), 5 testing the efficacy of the EFSA Guidance Document (GD) for the Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) of GMPs, 6 exploring new strategies for post market monitoring, 7 estimating the compatibility of GMPs with the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles implemented in the EU, 8 providing a systematic analysis of economical aspects of GMPs cultivation in the EU, and 9 setting a training and communication plan addressing public concerns about GMPs. The consortium includes 22 partners (Research institutes, Universities, State Agencies and SMEs) located in 15 EU countries and. An ICPC country (Argentina) will contribute in validating the monitoring methodology in areas where GM crops are cultivated on larger scales. A cornerstone is the application of the EFSA ERA GD, which is the basis for the update of the regulatory process of GMPs in the EU. The GD has provided ecologically sound principles for ERA, triggering the need of practically testing them. Partners of the consortium participated to the preparation of GD and 3 of them are senior authors of relevant chapters. The scientific activities will consist of case studies of maize and potato, the two GM crops currently approved for cultivation in the EU, and surveys in non-GM agro-ecosystems. The final outcome will include a network of EU representative sites for pre-market risk assessment and long-term monitoring studies, a set of standardised testing methods and a geographical information system integrating relevant datasets, protocols and tools to help EU decision-makers. To be implemented in 4 years, the project estimated costs are 7779852.15 , requested grant 5997963 .


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP-SICA | Phase: SPA.2010.3.2-02 | Award Amount: 616.11K | Year: 2011

The REDD Fast Logging Assessment & Monitoring Environment (REDD-FLAME) project will design, prototype and demonstrate a system capable of monitoring tropical and sub-tropical forests using high-resolution radar (and optical) imagery acquired by Earth Observation satellites. By focussing on early detection of logging activities, the system will provide the means to quickly identify the first signs of deforestation and thus act as a tool to control resource use and sustainable development within these fragile and valuable environments. The system will form a high-resolution add-on for existing (semi-)operational low- to mid-resolution systems, providing hot-spot monitoring for areas at highest risk of deforestation. As such, it could be integrated into national or regional forest monitoring centres and provide inputs for large scale carbon emission assessments in the context of the UN-REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Programme. The system will be developed in collaboration with investigators from developing countries on three continents in an effort to build lasting partnerships and transfer European expertise. Sites in Indonesia, Brazil and Mozambique have been chosen to represent a variety of forest types and deforestation issues, and thus to test the systems versatility. The REDD-FLAME project will bring benefits to a wide range of parties concerned with deforestation in tropical and sub-tropical environments and build capacity in the host countries for managing forest resources and carbon balances. By implementing a dedicated version of REDD-FLAME for each participating ICP country, results targeted at their specific monitoring requirements, based on the strategies and policies for deforestation in place, will be provided to give timely information on logging activities and deforestation.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: NMP-28-2014 | Award Amount: 11.30M | Year: 2015

Concept: NanoFASE will deliver an integrated Exposure Assessment Framework, including methods, parameter values, model and guidance that will allow Industry to assess the full diversity of industrial nano-enabled products to a standard acceptable in regulatory registrations. Methods to assess how use phases, waste streams and environmental compartments (air, soil, water biota) act as reactors in modifying and transporting ENMs will be developed and used to derive parameter values. Our nanospecific models will be integrated with the existing multi-media fate model SimpleBox4Nano for use in EUSES and also develop into a flexible multi-media model for risk assessment at different scales and complexities. Information on release form, transformation and transport processes for product relevant ENMs will allow grouping into Functional Fate Groups according to their most probable fate pathways as a contribution to safe-by-design based on fate. Methodology: Inventories of material release forms along the product value chain are established. We then study how released ENMs transform from initial reactive states to modified forms with lower energy states in which nanospecific properties may be lost. Transport studies assess material fluxes within/between compartments. The experimental work underpins models describing ENM transformation and transport. Open access is provided to the models suitable for incorporation into existing exposure assessment tools (e.g. SimpleBox4Nano) and for more detailed assessment. Framework completeness is validated by case studies. Impact: Identified links between ENM material properties and fate outcome (e.g. safe-by-design). Improved representation of nanospecific processes in existing key fate and exposure assessment tools (e.g. SimpleBox4Nano in EUSES). Contribution to standardization. GIS framework to support predictive assessment, catchment and point source management of ENM releases.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: ENV.2007.3.1.3.3. | Award Amount: 1.23M | Year: 2009

The general inadequate, when existing, methods of collection and disposal of solid waste in most Asian cities are causing important environmental and social harms, as human diseases spreading, environmental pollution and ground and water pollution. In order to raise awareness, promote an adequate waste collection and treatment system and the economic growth of this activity sector in a technological efficient and sustainable way, new waste management systems must be established, which also take into account the informal sector. This integrated approach should comprise technical, environmental, legal, socio-economic and financial aspects, involving the key actors at different levels to ensure an effective implementation. The proposed project aims to bring together experts and stakeholders in the field of solid waste management in Asian developing countries and Europe. The project will promote international cooperation between research organisations, universities, and social and governmental stakeholders in a European and Asian context (local waste processors, local municipalities and policy makers, local NGOs representatives, etc). A solid waste management expert and research co-ordination platform, and an expertise network, will be established in order to co-ordinate, assess and guide suitable research and strategic activities with the aim of identifying aspects like cost-effective treatment and sorting technologies, environmental impacts, gaps in technical knowledge and socio-economic and policy barriers to further execution. The network will also propose directions for futures research and for local implementation. The general aim of the proposed network will be to develop a variety of innovative, adaptable and replicable approaches to a more efficient solid waste management, integrating appropriate low-cost and efficient technologies with community-based management and their relevant governance, institutional frameworks and socio-economic constraints.


Globalization is one of the key challenges facing rural regions in Europe, bringing significant social, economic, cultural and political changes. Current studies on the impact of globalization on rural regions tend to focus on specific sectors or processes or localities. The absence of an overarching integrative analysis has resulted in the inability of regional development strategies to cope with these challenges. The objective of the DERREG project is to produce an interpretative model that will enable regional development actors to better anticipate and respond to the key challenges for disadvantaged regions arising from globalization. In doing so, it will expand scientific knowledge and understanding, inform policy development, and identify examples of best practice. The project is innovative in adopting an integrative approach that synthesises research across four key themes and nine case study regions in different types of rural regions to produce an overarching analysis of the impact of globalization on rural Europe. The research will involve both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis. It will develop new methods in areas such as business network analysis. A further innovation is the linking of the scientific analysis with practical application through the development of an interpretative model. The consortium comprises 9 partners with expertise in rural and regional research, focusing on Eastern Europe. The consortium has been assembled to provide an appropriate combination of expertise in the areas examined in the project, including rural businesses, migration, sustainable development, capacity-building and gender. The proposed research will enable policy makers and other stakeholders involved in regional development to better anticipate and respond to the challenges of globalization. It will support initiatives to increase the capacity of rural businesses to engage with new opportunities and to enhance social cohesion.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.2-5 | Award Amount: 7.21M | Year: 2013

GREEN SURGE will identify, develop and test ways of connecting green spaces, biodiversity, people and the green economy, in order to meet the major urban challenges related to land use conflicts, climate change adaptation, demographic changes, and human health and wellbeing. It will provide a sound evidence base for green infrastructure planning and implementation, exploring the innovation potential, and linking environmental, social and economic services with local communities. Working from the local to the city-regional level, the project aims to: 1) Develop urban green infrastructure as a planning concept for both integration and promotion of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and adapt it to local contexts; 2) apply an innovative biocultural diversity perspective to develop successful governance arrangements facilitating socio-ecological integration and local engagement in planning of urban green spaces; and 3) explore how valuation and real market integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services can facilitate choices in favour of the development of multifunctional green spaces in urban areas. Approaches and tools under these three interlinked objectives will be developed and implemented through an integrative, iterative and transdisciplinary process. GREEN SURGE will embrace a three-tiered approach of comparative European cases, synthesis of good practices, and establishment of five Urban Learning Labs strategically selected to represent different urban situations in Europe. GREEN SURGE will work within cooperative Learning Alliances, a specific type of multi-stakeholder involvement designed to enhance a process of shared learning and understanding in situations with a high degree of complexity and un-predictability. Two-loop learning applied combines a project-wide science-driven approach based on a common framework methodology with a bottom-up knowledge or experience-based approach at the local level.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: PEOPLE-2007-1-1-ITN | Award Amount: 1.95M | Year: 2008

A future challenge for the European agriculture is to satisfy the growing demands for food in a sustainable manner. Understanding the basic mechanics of plant growth will ultimately lead to our ability to increase yield, while decreasing the need for fertilizer and pesticides. Plant growth is regulated by developmental programmes that can be modified by environmental cues acting through endogenous signalling molecules such as plant hormones. Brassinosteroids (BRs) are the growth-promoting polyhydroxylated steroid hormones of plants. BRs are implicated in multiple developmental processes and as such they determine important agronomic traits including biomass, crop yield, and stress and pathogen adaptation. In addition to the well-elucidated BR biosynthetic pathway, during the past decade a significant progress led to the identification of multiple BR signalling components. Despite this key issues remained unsolved. It is still unclear how BRs control growth, how the levels of BRs change throughout development and in response to environment and how different hormonal pathways interact within cells. It is still unknown if different signaling pathways mediated other non BRs effects and how the redundancy in BR signaling components fine tunes the pleiotropic action of those hormones. The BRAVISSIMO network will created a training programme which will guarantee the comprehensive education needed in future to establish a competitive and leading European science in the interdisciplinary field of plant signaling. BRAVISSIMO will strengthen the BR field of research in Europe and will increase its ability to compete effectively with non-EU researchers via coordination, integration and introduction of more interdisciplinary approaches.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: PEOPLE-2007-1-1-ITN | Award Amount: 3.08M | Year: 2008

The production of a young highly trained scientific group which will stimulate the development of a protection philosophy to disease is urgently needed in the European aquaculture and ornamental fisheries sector. The expansion of this important European commercial sector is also severely affected because of the lack of an industrial critical mass which would allow individual enterprises to establish an appropriate training programme. NEMO will address these important European issues with a co-ordinated scientific and complementary skills programme incorporating the training expertise available in Universities, Research Institutes and Industry. It will also meet the numerous challenges that face the application of biofuel to energy generation and in particular, the use of biofuel byproducts i.e. glucan, as a natural, environmentally friendly, protective immunomodulator in the warm water aquaculture and ornamental sector. In meeting this scientific aim NEMO will also attain its training aim which is to provide a cohort of young scientists trained in generic and commercial skills, and the necessary specialised cellular, molecular and structural techniques who will become a catalyst for innovative developments in the utilization of biofuel byproducts in a range of scientific areas including fisheries, agriculture in general, and health. The project incorporates expertise and training courses in both Western and Eastern Europe giving reciprocal access to specialised facilities. NEMO will therefore benefit the sixteen young scientists, both early stage and experienced researchers, by giving them access research methods individually matched to their requirements and career aspirations. It will also provide the necessary complementary and cultural skills, together with a commercial awareness which enable these highly trained individuals to disseminate techniques, skills and knowledge throughout the EU.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2008-1.1.2 | Award Amount: 10.67M | Year: 2009

IS-ENES will develop a Virtual Earth System Modelling Resource Centre (V.E.R.C.), integrating the European Earth system models (ESMs) and their hardware, software, and data environments. The overarching goal of this e-infrastructure is to further integrate the European climate modelling community, to help the definition of a common future strategy, to ease the development of full ESMs, to foster the execution and exploitation of high-end simulations, and to support the dissemination of model results and the interaction with the climate change impact community. The V.E.R.C. encompasses models, the tools to prepare, evaluate, run, store and exploit model simulations, the access to model results and to the European high-performance computing ecosystem in particular the EU large infrastructures DEISA2 and PRACE. The V.E.R.C. developed by IS-ENES is based on generic ICT, Grid technology and subject-specific simulation codes and software environments. The European Network for Earth System Modelling (ENES) leads IS-ENES. This network gathers the European climate and Earth system modelling community working on understanding and prediction of future climate change. This community is strongly involved in the assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and provides the predictions on which EU mitigation and adaptation policies are elaborated. IS-ENES combines expertise in Earth system modelling, in computational science, and in studies of climate change impacts. IS-ENES will provide a service on models and model results both to modelling groups and to the users of model results, especially the impact community. Joint research activities will improve the efficient use of high-performance computers, model evaluation tool sets, access to model results, and prototype climate services for the impact community. Networking activities will increase the cohesion of the European ESM community and advance a coherent European Network for Earth System modelling.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2007-2-3-05 | Award Amount: 8.52M | Year: 2009

DREAM a trans-disciplinary partnership involving two multinationals and nine countries will develop realistic, physical and mathematical, food models for use as standards to be exploited across all major food categories to facilitate development of common approaches to risk/benefit assessment and nutritional quality in food research and industry. These models will enhance knowledge on process-structure-property relationships from the molecular to macroscopic level and facilitate creation of generic food matrices with functional and nutritional properties based on tailored microstructure. To address as wide a range of food products as possible, 4 generic structure groups will be used representing plant-based foods; meat; dairy and bakery products; for each, the most relevant types of products will be selected using criteria including structural characteristics and industrial and societal needs, ensuring that benefits/risks, economic importance and sustainability are taken into consideration. The model development will be conducted in close collaboration with food manufacturers through a specification-based approach. The objective of the mathematical approach is to realise a complete dynamic description of food processing using an innovative strategy exploiting most recent advances in cognitive and complex system sciences to allow the generalised methodologies to be extended to other food products. Models and protocols developed within DREAM will be disseminated by expert partners via existing channels (EFFoST, ETP and national platforms, CIAA and national federations, EFSA, national regulatory bodies) to be used by scientists, SMEs and multinationals to improve nutritional quality and benefit-risk management of the food chain. The involvement of ETP Food for Life will ensure the approach is extended to all foods by 2015. Training for young members of DREAM will equip them with scientific and other complementary skills necessary for career development within the ERA.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN | Award Amount: 4.07M | Year: 2015

The proposed European Training Network, MARmaED, connects science, policy and people and transcends national borders, disciplinary barriers and sectorial divides. By building a greater knowledge base and train the next generation of scientists to think across disciplines, MARmaED contributes to reinforce Europes position as a global leader in marine science and ensure blue growth and sustainable exploitation of marine living resources. The objectives of MARmaED are: - To increase the marine scientific knowledge base by integrating traditionally separate scientific disciplines within a unified learning platform. - To train a new generation of innovative researchers with interdisciplinary experience and skilled in promoting marine science to a wide audience. MARmaED integrates education and research in complementary marine sciences in Norway, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and France. Specifically, the network links state-of-the-art competences in genetics, ecophysiology, ecology, climatology, physical oceanography, statistics and economics. By so doing, the network unifies essential disciplines needed to achieve a good understanding and management of the marine environment. The research will provide new insights into how the cumulative stress from biodiversity loss, climate change and harvesting affects Europes complex marine systems and the consequences for optimal resource use - knowledge that is needed for sustainable, ecosystem-based management. MARmaED has a strong focus on training, with a mobility programme facilitating inter-disciplinarity and training modules of transferrable skills such as communication. Targeted secondments in the non-academic sector will provide the networks students with inter-sectorial training and favourable employment opportunities. MARmaED will thus create novel standards in the training of a new generation of multi-disciplinarily skilled and creative marine scientists, fit to address Europes future challenges.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2007-1-4-11 | Award Amount: 3.26M | Year: 2008

The RuDI study will provide a thorough analysis of the design, delivery and impact of EU Rural Development Policy (incl. LEADER). The study combines quantitative and qualitative approaches starting with a critical review of the state-of-the-art in RD theory and the conceptual frameworks and approaches used in RD policy evaluation. In the study the Common Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (CMEF) and the underlying intervention and impact logics will be critically examined. The positive and negative effects of rural development policies on institutional, social, economic and environmental level will be identified and described in a set of carefully selected and framed case studies. The impact assessment will also include those impacts that have not been anticipated. The case studies will be representative of the structural differences that can be found in the characteristics of rural areas across the EU. Focus will be on different types and characteristics of territory, interrelations with RD programme priorities and measures, and an assessment of their 'hard' and 'soft' impacts. The comparative cross-national analysis of the case studies will provide a better understanding of driving forces in policy design, the strengths and weaknesses of different delivery and governance models, the positive and negative impacts of RD policies and, most importantly, a more convincing conceptual and methodological framework for evaluating RD policy. Consultations with RD policy actors and evaluators will ensure that the analyses are closely coordinated with the demands and possibilities of practitioners. The RuDI study will be concluded with recommendations for a more appropriate RD policy design, delivery, impact monitoring and assessment.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 3.90M | Year: 2013

Marine sponges harbour extremely diverse populations of microbes, and are world record holders for the production of a plethora of bioactive molecules. Previous studies, however, aiming at the growth of sponges or their associated microbes for the production of bioactive compounds to supply biological material for clinical trials, have been largely unsuccessful. BLUEPHARMTRAIN is a multi-disciplinary alliance of 20 academic and industrial partners that will excel in research and training through integration of complementary expertise in cell biology, microbiology, natural product chemistry, genomics & transcriptomics (omics) and socio-economics. We will adopt cutting-edge omics technologies to give a new boost to the more traditional disciplines: microbial isolation, cell culture and natural product chemistry to go beyond the current scientific frontiers. For example, metagenomic and transcriptomic data will be applied to identify the metabolic potential and restrictions of -yet- uncultured microbes and will serve for the design of tailor-made cultivation conditions. In addition, heterologous expression of bioactive gene clusters and enzymes able to perform unusual modifications will serve as an alternative strategy to unlock the bioactive potential of sponges. Thus we aim to develop an extensive technology platform that is applicable for obtaining a wide variety of bioactive compounds from distinct sponges and their microbes. BLUEPHARMTRAIN will provide a complementary set of experimental and conceptual local and network-wide training modules and workshops to 15 young researchers. The recruited fellows will work towards personalized training plans to meet individual needs and interests, generating a critical mass of young researchers in the emerging field of blue biotechnology. The presence of a large consortium of versatile biotechnology, pharmaceutical and consultancy firms ensures a good balance between academic and transferable skills acquired by the fellows.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN | Award Amount: 2.83M | Year: 2012

The Marie Curie Initial Training Network SPOT-ITN will establish a multi-site network of early stage and experienced researchers at 9 partner institutions - including 3 from the private sector - in 4 European member countries and Israel to investigate fundamental and applied aspects of thermotolerance mechanisms contributing to the protection of pollen development at increased ambient temperatures. The envisioned joint research program is of broad commercial interest and will be an important contribution to the efforts undertaken world-wide to ensure future stability of food production in view of the prognosticated global climate change. Although the initial focus will be on tomato as an important agricultural crop, the results are expected to become applicable to other cultivated plants in the long run. Based on individual research projects of the young researchers, the main focus of the network will be to perform common, multidisciplinary experiments on a broad variety of heat-sensitive and heat-tolerant tomato genotypes and mutant lines at the molecular, cellular and organismic level with two major objectives: i) to describe the molecular basis of the striking sensitivity of pollen development at higher temperatures and regulation of pollen-specific heat stress response and thermotolerance mechanisms; and ii) to develop BIOMARKERS of POLLEN THERMOTOLERANCE usable in future screening programs to improve breeding of new heat-tolerant cultivars. Besides training of specific research tasks, the multi-disciplinary research program includes advanced methods and high-throughput technologies in plant genetics, molecular and cell biology, physiology, and bioinformatics. In addition, a multitude of opportunities are provided for training complementary skills to broaden the knowledge of the young researchers for developing their future career with comprehensive possibilities in a wide field of research areas in Life Sciences in both, the public and the private sector.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IRSES | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-IRSES | Award Amount: 405.30K | Year: 2012

Fish farming is likely to be the greatest source of increased fish production, and its share in total food fish supply by 2030 is estimated almost equal to the food fish supply from capture fisheries. Intelligent monitoring and control system for fish farming generates labor and energy savings, limit disease and mortality, and increase yields by continuously monitoring and controlling water quality. The main objective of SENSORFISH joint research programme is to increase mobility and exchange of researchers between EU countries and ChinaUS to obtain better understanding of intelligent sensor network and system technologies for fish farming. This program will focuses on four areas: 1) Smart Sensors for fish farming; 2) Wireless sensor network for fish farming; 3) Remote control and management system for fish farming; 4) Integration of fish farming system. An intelligent monitoring and control system for fish farming will be pilot used and tested in Norway and China. The results of these contributions will be made available to the academic community, and research conclusions drawn will be published in international journals. In these Staff Exchanges each participant will also seek to share their knowledge within their area of expertise by organizing training seminars, courses for early stage researchers also involving local, regional and/or national management agencies according to their needs or demands. SENSORFISH programme builds a basis for long-term collaboration among participants and will exploit complementary expertise of the participant organizations and participants in order to create synergies among participants and to establish long-lasting partnership. As multi- and cross-disciplinary studies essential in intelligent sensor network and system technologies for fish farming research are lacking in China, this programme will essentially also work towards an integrated approach for future joint international projects.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 3.90M | Year: 2014

In the Early Modern Age (16th-17th centuries) the construction of ocean-going ships was paramount to the development of cultural encounters in what became the Age of Discovery and European expansion. In the case of the Iberian Empires, the establishment of new trade routes brought up the need for armed merchantmen, galleons and smaller vessels, placing unprecedented demands on Iberian forests for the supply of construction timber. Forestry and sea power became inextricably linked, creating new geopolitical tensions, alliances and forest regulations. Key questions in this context are: could Iberian forest resources sustain the increasing demand of sound timber, or was the wood imported from elsewhere? If so, how were the trade networks organized? And did the lack of raw material force the technological changes occurred in shipbuilding in the 16th century, or were they a result of exchange between Mediterranean and Atlantic shipbuilding traditions? This project will address these questions through a multidisciplinary and innovative training research program to improve the understanding of our historical past, our cultural heritage, and our knowledge of the use of resources for shipbuilding. The prerequisite for such approach is combining knowledge derived from Humanities and Life Sciences. The aims of the project are: i) to consolidate a research line combining historical research, underwater archaeology, GIS and wood provenancing methods (dendrochronology, wood anatomy and geo/dendrochemistry); ii) to increase the background and experience of trainees in the different research areas, by engaging the fellows in training courses and workshops aimed at developing their scientific, communication, and management skills; and iii) to develop their transferable skills for future careers in academia or the private sector whilst advancing the research fields through the integration of research tools, development of reference datasets and new discoveries.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008 | Award Amount: 4.68M | Year: 2009

Photoprotection against excess absorbed light energy is an essential and universal attribute of oxygenic photosynthetic organisms. This requirement has been a strong force in the evolution of plants and micro-organisms, and a diverse range of solutions have arisen. It has determined survival, productivity and habitat preference, and it determines the ceiling on the efficiency of energy conversion in photosynthesis in natural environment. Its investigation also provides insights into unique nanoscale switching processes. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of biological light adaptation will therefore have implication for many aspects of life, such as agriculture and food security, biodiversity and global climate change, biosolar energy and biofuels. This network brings together major high-quality EU centres with expertise in a wide range of disciplines from plant physiology to molecular biology, structural biology and photophysics and with great interest in interdisciplinary collaborative research. The network will thus provide a unique training opportunity for young researchers in key aspects of molecular biosciences and biophysical sciences in the context of practical applications in instrument development, agronomy, ecology and biotechnology. Researchers from within and outside this network will receive key research skills from several disciplines combined in a high-level and intrinsically collaborative research project, key transferable skills on information technology, written and oral communication and critical assessment, and key business and commercial skills on commercial exploitation and product development.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.1-6 | Award Amount: 3.70M | Year: 2013

The aim of the ECONADAPT project is to provide user-orientated methodologies and evidence relating to economic appraisal criteria to inform the choice of adaptation actions using analysis that incorporates cross-scale governance under conditions of uncertainty. A critical theme of the proposal is therefore to support the application of adaptation economics in the period following the publication of the EUs 2013 Adaptation Strategy, focusing on key decision areas that need enhanced economic information, and on the key users of such information. Key decision areas include: management of extreme weather events modified by climate change that have high impact costs in the short term; appraisal of projects where the costs of climate risks are borne over long time periods; appraisal of flows of large-scale EU funds where the case for climate resilience needs to be made; macro-economic effects of climate change risks and adaptation strategies at Member State and EU levels, and; appraisal of overseas development assistance aimed at reducing the damage costs of climate risks in less developed countries. The project will work intensively with stakeholders from e.g. relevant DGs, Member States, Regional or local policy makers, and seek to learn from, and inform, experience. The methods and approaches will be co-developed with the diverse user groups engaged in using economic data within adaptation decision making. A two-tier approach is proposed to provide detailed guidance and empirical data: first, to other economists or private sector organisations with adaptation needs, and second, to other users who may want to use light-touch methods, with the empirical data to help in scoping decision making outcomes. A strong link will be made with the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT), with the guidance and economic information designed for a wide range of users.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-SICA | Phase: KBBE-2007-2-5-04 | Award Amount: 7.59M | Year: 2009

Trade in aquatic products is the largest global food sector, by value, and Asia represents the main external source of aquatic products into the EU. Current EU policy supporting international trade between Asia and Europe concentrates on issues of food safety as measures of quality, whilst market-forces drive development of standards and labels that identify social and environmental parameters. This project proposes to establish an evidence-based framework to support current stakeholder dialogues organised by a third party certifier. This will contribute to harmonising standards, helping consumers to make fully informed choices with regards to the sustainability and safety of their seafood. The Ethical Aquatic Food Index, a qualitative holistic measure of overall sustainability to support consumers purchasing decisions, will be based on detailed research centred around a Life Cycle Assessment of current processes involved in ensuring aquatic products reach consumers, aligned with analyses from the sustainable livelihoods approach and systems thinking. SMEs based in the EU will participate in this project, particularly the action research phase, enhancing their relative competitiveness. By strengthening the knowledge base surrounding EU-Asia seafood trade the project will provide the evidence required to support further expansion whilst ensuring a fair deal for producers who are meeting appropriate social and environmental goals and offering a safe and sustainable product for consumers. The sectors covered represent the main aquaculture products reaching EU markets; tilapia, catfish, shrimps and prawns. Known case study stakeholders include SMEs in Bangladesh, China, Thailand and Vietnam where sustainability is essential in the face of rapid growth. The research will secondarily improve understanding of opportunities for European exports to supply the expanding middleclass in Asia. Outputs will be promoted through workshops, websites, journal and press articles.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: ISSI-5-2015 | Award Amount: 3.64M | Year: 2016

The RRI-Practice project will bring together a unique group of international experts in RRI to understand the barriers and drivers to the successful implementation of RRI both in European and global contexts; to promote reflection on organisational structures and cultures of research conducting and research funding organisations; and to identify and support best practices to facilitate the uptake of RRI in organisations and research programmes. The project will review RRI related work in 22 research conducting and research funding organisations and will develop RRI Outlooks outlining RRI objectives, targets and indicators for each organisation. It will involve comparative analysis of the five EC keys of RRI locating these within broader, evolving discourses on RRI. Within each identified RRI dimension the project will analyse how the topic has developed in particular social and institutional contexts, how the RRI concept and configuration meshes, overlaps and challenges existing organisational practices and cultures, leading to an analysis of the barriers and drivers associated with operationalising and implementing RRI. 12 national case studies will allow for in depth studies of, and dialogue with, the included organisations, and will form the basis for systematic analysis and comparison of drivers, barriers and best practices on each dimension of RRI. The project design also allows analysis of such drivers, barriers and best practices related to national and organisational characteristics, safeguarding the need to take into account diversity and pluralism in regional RRI programs. These analyses will ultimately end up in recommendations to the EC about effective, efficient and targeted strategies for increasing RRI uptake in different kinds of organisations and national cultures, in Europe and in selected major S&T intensive economies worldwide. The project will also develop user-friendly guidance aimed directly at research and funding organisations themselves.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN | Award Amount: 3.87M | Year: 2016

In the face of the increasing global consumption of fossil resources, photosynthetic organisms offer an attractive alternative that could meet our rising future needs as clean, renewable, sources of energy and for the production of fine chemicals. Key to the efficient exploitation of these organisms is to optimise the conversion of Solar Energy into Biomass (SE2B). The SE2B network deals with this optimisation in an interdisciplinary approach including molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics and biotechnology. Regulation processes at the level of the photosynthetic membranes, integrating molecular processes within individual proteins up to flexible re-arrangements of the membranes, will be analysed as a dynamic network of interacting regulations. SE2B will yield information about the similarities and differences between cyanobacteria, green algae, diatoms and higher plants, the organisms most commonly employed in biotechnological approaches exploiting photosynthetic organisms, as well as in agriculture. The knowledge gained from understanding these phenomena will be directly transferred to increase the productivity of algal mass cultures for valuable products, and for the development of sophisticated analytic devices that are used to optimise this production. In future, the knowledge created can also be applicable to the design of synthetic cell factories with efficient light harvesting and energy conversion systems. The SE2B network will train young researchers to work at the forefront of innovations that shape the bio-based economy. SE2B will develop a training program based on individual and network-wide training on key research and transferable skills, and will furthermore disseminate these results by open online courses prepared by the young researchers themselves.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 3.29M | Year: 2015

BACKGROUND Secure and sustainable food production in terms of quantity and quality is a major challenge facing human societies. However, food security is continuously threatened by current and invasive pest species. EU regulations for the use of pesticides are getting stricter to ensure food safety and protect ecosystem health. Biocontrol of agricultural pests by using natural enemies has great potential to deal with these two demands. CHALLENGE Controlling novel exotic pests often involves importing non-native natural enemies. Such practices are undesirable as it poses risks to local biodiversity. Optimizing existing and native biocontrol agents can reduce the dependence on imported natural enemies. OBJECTIVE BINGO will advance current knowledge in biocontrol practice through the use of natural genetic variation and by simultaneously training 13 young researchers in an extensive suite of interdisciplinary skills. This will allow them to improve the efficiency of biological pest control through selective breeding of natural enemies in a broad range of agricultural systems and environmental conditions. HOW The research projects will address current bottlenecks in biocontrol, for rearing, monitoring and performance, that include a broad range of scientific disciplines and in which state-of-the-art population genomics will be applied. Industry has a pivotal role by providing the problems for research, training, and by translating the results to capacity building and increased competitiveness. RELEVANCE BINGO will deliver improved biocontrol agents, knowledge on the genetic organisation of traits related to agents performance, genetic markers for monitoring and risk assessment, and guidelines and protocols for genetic improvement of natural enemies. Crucially, BINGO will deliver eager ESRs that have the potential to thrive in professional environments in science, industry and public bodies to ensure that the biocontrol potential is met and implemented.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: COMPET-07-2014 | Award Amount: 3.87M | Year: 2015

The TIME SCALE project will bring closed regenerative life support system (CRLSS) to the next level by further development of the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS). The EMCS has been successfully operated on the International Space Station (ISS) for 7 years with rotors allowing scientific research under Moon and Mars gravity exposures in addition to microgravity conditions. The EMCS modular design provides the possibility to replace the individual subsystems including the entire rotor system. The TIME SCALE project main objective is to develop an EMCS Advanced Life Support System Breadboard (EMCS ALSS BB) and demonstrate the operational capability for the ISS. The EMCS rotor baseplate will provide generic interfaces to several compartments of a CRLSS such as higher plants (crops), algae bioreactors and mouse. Scientific knowledge on whole higher plant (crop) physiology and fundamental processes under Moon and Mars gravity conditions are essential to ensure a safe and reliable food supply in future space exploration and integration of higher plants into a CRLSS. As part of the project an EMCS crop cultivation system will be developed and tested. The closed water and nutrient management research and development will include solution for challenges such as lack of thermal convection and the need of optimised technology (e.g. ion specific sensors) to monitor nutrients available for plants. Remote sensing diagnosis of plant health will be implemented using sensors and imaging techniques and Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS). Knowledge and technology on nutrient and water recycling and early warning for crop suboptimal growth conditions has significant terrestrial relevance for greenhouse systems. The TIME SCALE project bring together Universities and SMEs with the state of the art knowledge and experience needed to develop the EMCS ALSS BB for ISS and has the capacity to utilise the gained knowledge and concepts for terrestrial application.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SC5-07-2015 | Award Amount: 6.65M | Year: 2016

The project MERCES is focused on the restoration of different degraded marine habitats, with the aim of: 1) assessing the potential of different technologies and approaches; 2) quantifying the returns in terms of ecosystems services and their socio-economic impacts; 3) defining the legal-policy and governance frameworks needed to optimize the effectiveness of the different restoration approaches. Specific aims include: a) improving existing, and developing new, restoration actions of degraded marine habitats; b) increasing the adaptation of EU degraded marine habitats to global change; c) enhancing marine ecosystem resilience and services; d) conducting cost-benefit analyses for marine restoration measures; e) creating new industrial targets and opportunities. To achieve these objectives MERCES created a multi-disciplinary consortium with skills in marine ecology, restoration, law, policy and governance, socio-economics, knowledge transfer, dissemination and communication. MERCES will start from the inventory of EU degraded marine habitats (WP1), conduct pilot restoration experiments (WP2, WP3, WP4), assess the effects of restoration on ecosystem services (WP5). The legal, policy and governance outputs will make effective the potential of marine restoration (WP6) and one dedicated WP will assess the socio-economic returns of marine ecosystems restoration (WP7). The transfer of knowledge and the links with the industrial stakeholders will be the focus of WP8. The results of MERCES will be disseminated to the widest audience (WP9). The project will be managed through a dedicated management office (WP10). MERCES will contribute to the Blue Growth by: i) improving the EU scientific knowledge on marine restoration, ii) contributing to EU Marine Directives; iii) implementing the Restoration Agenda, iv) enhancing the industrial capacity in this field, v) increasing the competitiveness of EU in the world market of restoration, and vi) offering new employment opportunities.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: DRS-01-2015 | Award Amount: 14.54M | Year: 2016

The ultimate purpose of ANYWHERE is to empower exposed responder institutions and citizens to enhance their anticipation and pro-active capacity of response to face extreme and high-impact weather and climate events. This will be achieved through the operational implementation of cutting-edge innovative technology as the best way to enhance citizens protection and saving lives. ANYWHERE proposes to implement a Pan-European multi-hazard platform providing a better identification of the expected weather-induced impacts and their location in time and space before they occur. This platform will support a faster analysis and anticipation of risks prior the event occurrence, an improved coordination of emergency reactions in the field and help to raise the self-preparedness of the population at risk. This significant step-ahead in the improvement of the pro-active capacity to provide adequate emergency responses is achievable capitalizing on the advanced forecasting methodologies and impact models made available by previous RTD projects, maximizing the uptake of their innovative potential not fully exploited up to now. The consortium is build upon a strong group of Coordinators of previous key EC projects in the related fields, together with 12 operational authorities and first responders institutions and 6 leading enterprises of the sector. The platform will be adapted to provide early warning products and locally customizable decision support services proactively targeted to the needs and requirements of the regional and local authorities, as well as public and private operators of critical infrastructures and networks. It will be implemented and demonstrated in 4 selected pilot sites to validate the prototype that will be transferred to the real operation. The market uptake will be ensured by the cooperation with a SME and Industry Collaborative Network, covering a wide range of sectors and stakeholders in Europe, and ultimately worldwide.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2007-1-1-01 | Award Amount: 3.71M | Year: 2008

The aim of this project is to develop a suite of tools for molecular breeding of crop plants for sustainable and competitive agriculture. The tools help the breeder in predicting phenotypic response of genotypes for complex traits under a range of environmental conditions. Pepper will be used as a model crop. The idea is to use a crop growth model as a tool to predict the phenotypic response of a genotype under different environmental conditions and to use genetic markers in the QTL regions to estimate the genotype specific model parameters. We will adapt an existing growth model to cope with genotype specific information. Specific QTL-analysis methods will be developed as a tool to find the corresponding QTL for the crop growth parameters. QTL can be used directly in marker assisted breeding, but it would be more interesting to find the genes in the QTL region, which account for the genotypic differences of the model parameters. These genes will help to unravel the genetic basis of complex traits such as yield. In this project two approaches will be used to find these genes: candidate gene finding, using known genes from other species, and differential gene expression. Molecular breeding will not completely replace large scale phenotyping. Hence, automated and fast high-throughput tools to reduce the amount of manual labour necessary in phenotyping experiments are called for. In this project an image analysis tool and a fluorescence tool will be developed to measure large numbers of phenotypic traits automatically. In the last year of the project a validation experiment will be conducted to show the potential use of the total concept developed in this study and the potential impact of every single tool or technique. Dissemination of results to plant breeding industry will be done in close cooperation with an industrial advisory board and will involve specialized workshops and a molecular breeding course as well as lectures, papers and website.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2011.2.2-01 | Award Amount: 7.85M | Year: 2012

The project goal is to support the development of functional food ingredients and products that are beneficial for the human gut & immune system and therefore of crucial importance for quality of life. The project will study the effects of specific non-digestible polysaccharides which have shown health potential in this field. The health effects of NPS will be focused around enhancing immune defence against pathogens, the reduction of infectious diseases like common cold and influenza of elderly and will make use of EFSA supported biomarkers that enable immune function claims and underpin the mechanism involved. The studied mechanisms are the innate and adaptive immune system and the possible involvement of the microbiota and microbiota-mediated products. To achieve this goal new and existing NPS will be studied for their health effects in a systematic way by developing a toolbox of dedicated assays and models that can be used by industry and authorities to study and approve food ingredients with a similar health focus. The project will: 1) perform biochemical analyses to study compounds, effect of processing and bioavailability, 2) develop standardized in vitro screening methods to be able to predict in vivo effects, 3) use dedicated in vivo and ex vivo analyses to study mechanisms of action and to validate biomarkers and 4) use and validate this knowledge in an intervention study. By combining the knowledge that will be gained from molecular, cellular and whole-organism studies, the goal will be to understand the bioactive mechanisms of these NPS and use this knowledge to design functional food products. SMEs make a very large contribution to the project, both as beneficiary of the products and as a technology service provider related to health research. This proposed project should provide the scientific basis for international nutritional organisations to recommend an immune-related functional health claim for some of the NPS studied.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CPCSA | Phase: INFRA-2008-1.2.2 | Award Amount: 3.70M | Year: 2009

A coherent classification and species checklist of the worlds plants, animals, fungi and microbes is fundamental for accessing information about biodiversity. The Catalogue of Life provides the world with a unique service: a dynamically updated global index of validated scientific names, synonyms and common names integrated within a single taxonomic hierarchy.The Catalogue of Life was initiated as a European Scientific Infrastructure under FP5 and has a distributed knowledge architecture. Its federated e-compendium of the worlds organisms grows rapidly (now covering well over one million species), and has established a formidable user base, including major global biodiversity portals as well as national biodiversity resources and individual users worldwide.Joint Research Activities in this 4D4Life Project will establish the Catalogue of Life as a state of the art e-science facility based on an enhanced service-based distributed architecture. This will make it available for integration into analytical and synthetic distributed networks such as those developing in conservation, climate change, invasive species, molecular biodiversity and regulatory domains. User-driven enhancements in the presentation of distribution data and bio-data will be made.In its Networking Activities 4D4Life will strengthen the development of Global Species Databases that provide the core of the service, and extend the geographical reach of the programme beyond Europe by realizing a Multi-Hub Network integrating data from China, New Zealand, Australia, N. America and Brazil.Service Activities, the largest part of 4D4Life, will create new electronic taxonomy services, including synonymy server, taxon name-change, and download services, plus new educational and popular services, for instance for hand-held devices.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2016 | Award Amount: 3.36M | Year: 2017

Mitigation of climate change is a key scientific and societal challenge and also a headline target of the EU2020 strategy. Strong reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are necessary to reach the global warming target agreed on at the 2015 United Nations Convention of Parties in Paris. Such emission reductions can only be achieved if sources are properly quantified and mitigation efforts are verified, but there are large discrepancies between official emission inventories and estimates derived from direct measurement of the air. MEMO2 will contribute to the EU2020 targets with a focus on methane (CH4), the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and one of Europes most important energy sources. CH4 emissions are a major contributor to Europes global warming impact, but they are also a good target for climate change mitigation because of a rather short lifetime of 10 years (policy-maker compatible) and several sources offering possibilities of no-regret emission reduction (landfills, gas leaks, manure). However CH4 emissions are not well quantified yet. MEMO2 will bridge the gap between large-scale scientific estimates from in situ monitoring programs and the bottom-up estimates of emissions from local sources that are used in the national reporting. MEMO2 will identify and evaluate CH4 emissions and support mitigation measures by I) developing new and advanced mobile methane measurements tools and networks, isotopic source identification, and modelling at different scales, and II) educating a new generation of crossthinking scientists, which are able to effectively implement novel measurement and modelling tools in an interdisciplinary and intersectoral context. The 9 beneficiaries and 13 non-academic partners of MEMO2 offer a wellstructured intersectoral training programme to equip young researchers with strong scientific and personal competencies, which will enhance their employability as well as European innovation capacity in the future.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2010.2.1.2-1 | Award Amount: 4.46M | Year: 2011

Economic policy instruments (EPI) have received widespread attention over the last three decades, and have increasingly been implemented to achieve environmental policy objectives. However, whereas EPI have been successfully applied in some policy domains (such as climate, energy and air quality), their application to tackle water management issues (drought/water scarcity, floods, water quality control) are beset by many practical difficulties. EPI-Water sets to assess the effectiveness and the efficiency of Economic Policy Instruments in achieving water policy goals, and to identify the preconditions under which they complement or perform better than alternative (e.g. regulatory or voluntary) policy instruments. Using a common multi-dimensional assessment framework, the project will compare the performance of single economic instruments or their apposite combinations with the performance otherwise achievable with regulatory (command & control) interventions (such as water restriction/rationing, licensing or permitting), persuasive instruments or voluntary commitments. Furthermore the project will identify remaining research and methodological issues that need to be addressed, in particular with regards to the further development and use of national accounting, for supporting the design, implementation and evaluation of EPI in the field of water management.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2007-3-3-04;KBBE-2007-3-3-05 | Award Amount: 8.07M | Year: 2009

This proposal will (further) develop and apply metagenomics tools to access the enzymatic potential borne in the cryptic biota of selected natural habitats, in particular target soil-related and aquatic ones. In the light of the environmental relevance of chitins and lignins (as natural compounds recalcitrant to degradation) and halogenated aliphatic and aromatic compounds (anthropogenic recalcitrant compounds), the enzymatic activities that we will target are functions able to degrade these compounds. A database of gene functions will be established and maintained. Next to its great relevance to environmental biotechnology including bioremediation, a spin-off of the work will be the discovery of novel biocatalytic functions of industrial relevance. We will in particular address the catabolic potential that is encoded by the mobilome, the collective pool of mobile genetic elements in the microbiota. We will further apply high-throughput (454-based) sequencing to rapidly unravel the metabolic complement in this mobile gene pool. The project brings together a suite of 15 contractors across Europe, encompassing 21 laboratories spread over 11 copuntries and including 4 SMEs. Most of the partners are renowned laboratories which have vast experience in metagenomics of environmental samples, biotechnology, enzymology, bioinformatics, the mobilome, waste management and bioremediation and enzyme production.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENERGY.2008.10.1.1 | Award Amount: 5.21M | Year: 2009

Living plants in microbial fuel cells might be used as future large-scale Europe wide green energy providers. Such a system can produce in-situ 24 hours per day green electricity or biohydrogen without harvesting the plants. That this might become true was indicated by our first small scale proof of principle experiments describing the so called Plant Microbial Fuel Cell (Plant-MFC) (Strik, 2008, De Schamphelaire, 2008). The Plant-MFC aims to transform solar radiation into green electricity or biohydrogen in a clean and efficient manner. In the Plant-MFC concept, living plants and living microbes form an electrochemical system that is capable of sustainable production of green electricity or biohydrogen from solar energy. By its nature, the Plant-MFC is in potential 5 times more efficient than conventional bio-energy systems. The technology might be implemented in several ways, ranging from local small scale electricity providers to large scale energy wetlands & islands, high-tech energy & food supplying greenhouses and novel biorefineries. This way, affordable bioenergy maybe produced in Europe as well as in developing countries. Plant-MFCs can be integrated in landscapes invisibly which makes this technology socially highly acceptable. However, exploration of new areas of science & technology is necessary to overcome Plant-MFCs bottlenecks and to make this principally clean, renewable and sustainable technology come true. It is now time to show that significant independent European biofuel & bioelectricity production is possible; we propose that Plant-MFCs can be an excellent choice for our future. We expect that Plant-MFC technology can at least cover 20% of Europes primary energy need in a real clean & sustainable way. The Plant-MFC concept has several attractive qualities which can provide the significant break through for sustainable energy production in Europe. It will reinforcing competitiveness of Europe since Plant-MFC is world-wide implementable.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2011.1.2-03 | Award Amount: 3.91M | Year: 2012

There is a need to improve sustainability in farming systems particularly through soil care and improvement, but not at the expense of productivity. One approach is to focus on a comprehensive advance in conservation tillage. This will be developed from improved ways of integrating subsidiary crops (SC) as living or dead mulches or cover crops with the main crops in rotations so as to simultaneously improve crop nutrition, health, and productivity. The SC will deliver multiple ecological services by increasing the duration of soil cover in the rotation overall while increasing species diversity, minimising the use of tillage and agrochemicals, enhancing biological N fixation and soil C content, and both reducing water demand in dry climates and improving soil workability in wetter climates. The research will draw on a wide range of previous and ongoing EU and related projects and will be based on 11 coordinated field experiments in different climatic regions together with three long-term experiments in Europe and Brazil. These experiments will all be assessed for economic and ecological impact including the often neglected issue of legume root health. Breeding companies and manufacturers of agricultural equipment from all regions of interest will be involved in finding adapted solutions for the different environments by extending the range of potentially useful plant species and by developing appropriate machinery to promote adoption in practical agriculture. The potential for useful chemical extraction from the existing and novel SCs will also be investigated. A central deliverable will be a database supported Cover Crop and Living Mulch Toolbox and Decision Support Tool which will encourage multilingual stakeholder exchange and dissemination during and beyond the lifetime of the project so as to capture farmer experience. The results of the project as a whole will be of use for and improve sustainability in low-input, organic, and conventional farming systems.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-03a-2014 | Award Amount: 6.92M | Year: 2015

This proposal SFS-03a-2014-aligned focuses to minimize the risk of introduction/impact of emerging pests threatening EU agriculture and forestry. The targets are: 1) Xylella fastidiosa and its vectors in olive, grapevine, citrus, stone fruit, ornamentals and landscape trees of high socio-economic importance; 2) Ca. Liberibacter solanacearum and its vectors affecting a number of strategic crops such as potato, tomato and carrot; and 3) Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus (anomorph. Chalara fraxinea) and Phytophtora spp. seriously affecting broadleaf and conifer species in forest ecosystems. Targeted pests, their vectors and the host response will be explored using innovative approaches (NGS, transcriptomic). Diseases surveillance and epidemiology given by current methods will integrate improved survey protocols and remote sensing. Innovative IPM will include studies of microbiome to develop sustainable solutions in line with the EU plant health legislation. New knowledge gained with POnTE will result in an outcome-based pest prevention and management work plan to: a) implement area-wide pest risk assessments; b) prevent the entry and develop surveillance and early detection tools (diagnostic kits, lab-on-chip, new biomarkers); c) mitigate the spread and reduce the socio-economic impact; d) IPM based on disease resistance, disease-free seeds, cultural practices and physical environmentally-friendly treatments; e) support knowledge-based decision-making policies at EU level. The proposal fosters and promotes a multi-actor approach and transnational research collaborations among 25 Partners at the forefront of research in plant protection, agro-engineering and economics. It involves key industries/SMEs that develop diagnostic kits and services, agrochemical and seed companies, stakeholder groups. End-users will participate in the development of the project and immediately implement the practical solutions derived from the outcomes to solve these serious emerging diseases.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2010-ITN | Award Amount: 3.23M | Year: 2010

The ITN DYNAMOL will establish a powerful new approach for the preparation of nanostructures based on dynamic covalent chemistry. This approach combines the advantages of covalent synthesis (robustness of bonds) with those of non-covalent synthesis (error correction, responsiveness) without any of the disadvantages. It therefore has the potential to provide unique solutions for several important challenges in the preparation of nanostructures that still need to be addressed. The ITN unites most European leading academic experts in the area of dynamic covalent chemistry with partners from the industrial sector. Expertise of all partners encompasses the areas of supramolecular chemistry and dynamic covalent chemistry, but individual research competences are quite diverse focussing on molecularly defined nanostructures, analysis of nanostructures, and novel applications. The complementarity and diversity thus realised is crucial for successful research and training in this area. Moreover, the two full partners from the private sector, both representing small and medium-sized enterprises, and the two associated partners, one a major chemical company, will have the critical role to bridge fundamental science with application and commercialisation of the results. The objectives of the network will be achieved by recruiting 11 early stage researchers and 1 experienced researcher. A mobility program will allow the researchers to spend time in the various laboratories of the network, thus facilitating sharing of resources and expertise. Local training at the host institutions will be supplemented by a training programme containing various elements such as biannual workshops and a summer school with the participation of experts from outside the network to realise efficient exchange of information and transfer of knowledge. The ITN thus combines world-class research with a unique education to strengthen Europes prominence in the timely field of nanoscience.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: SPA.2010.1.1-04 | Award Amount: 3.60M | Year: 2010

ReCover project will develop beyond state-of-the-art service capabilities to support fighting deforestation and forest degradation in the tropical region. The pilot service capabilities mean provision of a monitoring system of forest cover and forest cover changes and biomass including a robust accuracy assessment. The capabilities are based on utilizing mainly space-borne earth observation data and in-situ data. The service development is controlled by specific user requirements that are expressed through Service Level Agreements (SLA) between the ReCover consortium and six users. The services prepare particularly for the implementation of the post-Kyoto climate treaty and the REDD\. Service roll-out and expansion to the community outside the project and present pilot users is a key activity of ReCover. The outside community includes but is not restricted to TREES-3 project, GSE Forest Monitoring Extension, FRA, and GEO. The scientific viewpoint that reaches beyond the state-of-the-art techniques is the leading baseline of the study. The main research focus in ReCover is to develop a sound statistical concept and validation procedure in the production, apply very high resolution image data to improve result reliability, estimate biomass and degradation as well as their change, define the role of radar data in REDD related services, and build standardized service system with a capacity building concept. The consortium consists of nine leading research and industrial partners of which one is an SME. Three partners are from REDD eligible countries. The high impact value of ReCover is achieved by working directly for and with the customers and with local research partners, creating novel, trustworthy and standardized but affordable services and applying them in INSPIRE compatible service environment. The long-term service sustainability is concerned including evaluation of the potential of new missions such as the Sentinels.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2011.2.3-05 | Award Amount: 4.02M | Year: 2012

The aim of TeRiFiQ is to achieve significant binary (salt and fat or fat and sugar) reductions in the level of sodium, sugar and fat in selected cheese (hard, semi-hard, soft), meat (cooked and dry-fermented sausages), cakes (muffins) and ready-made food products (sauces) whilst maintaining and where possible enhancing nutritional and sensorial qualities of these products to ensure full consumer acceptance. This will be done by fine-tuning current product formulations by engineering the technological parameters of realistic food models specific to each product and by applying state of the art technologies such as cryo-crystallisation, multiple emulsions and multi-layered processes in a manner never done before. In parallel, micro- and macro-structures of the new food matrices will be studied. To ensure the sensorial feasibility of this re-engineering, sensorial analysis and optimisation to ensure consumer acceptability will be carried out in parallel to these technological developments. Moreover, the nutritional value of reformulated foods will be estimated compared to the non reformulated original foods. Beside technological aspects, more fundamental studies from selected models developed above will be conducted to improve the understanding of the main mechanisms leading to perception. That includes flavour release and temporal perception in relation with changes in composition of the selected models with in vivo and in vitro approaches with predictive tools, and a cognitive approach will be carried out as a promising lever to compensate salt, sugar and/or fat reduction. The findings will be transferred to the reformulation actions so that they can be introduced into the new food processes. These new product formulations will be validated via extensive consumer testing and demonstration activities with 9 SMEs for 6 European countries to ensure the industrial feasibility and consumer acceptance in different EU cultures and industries.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SSH-2007-2.2-02 | Award Amount: 1.84M | Year: 2008

As the objectives of the CAP shift from an agricultural-centred approach to wider rural development, the idea of multifunctionality of rural areas comes into play. This in turn brings the CAP into closer association with a wide range of sectoral policy regimes: regional policy, spatial planning, environmental management; social, energy policy, and others. Sectoral regimes interact in complex ways, and with a determining effect on the sustainable development of rural areas. RUFUS will provide policy makers and stakeholders with better theoretical and practical understandings of how CAP measures interact with other forms of public intervention in rural development; and how policy regimes can be combined to ensure more sustainable development. RUFUS will investigate how rural development policy can be targeted at the specific endogenous potential of rural regions to encourage multiple functionality which goes beyond physical landscape potentials to include social and economic activities and opportunities. An interdisciplinary methodology will build into the analysis a qualitative analysis of the social dimension and endogenous potentials, alongside economic and ecological variables. RUFUS will establish a transdisciplinary conceptual framework on policy integration and rural multifunctionality. It will create a rural typology incorporating social aspects and endogenous potentials. Scenarios of rural futures - the trajectory of policy interaction processes - will be generated. These quantitative findings will be tested against the reality of stakeholder experiences of regional development dynamics through case studies using visualisation techniques. The relevance of the findings for other regions will be examined with the help of an expert panel. Special emphasis is given to combining findings with other research, setting them in the context of political goals and policy problems, and transposing them into practical and meaningful recommendations for action.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: ENERGY-2007-3.3-03 | Award Amount: 1.18M | Year: 2008

An ambitious and achievable vision for 2030 is that up to 25% of the EUs transport fuel needs could be meet by clean and CO2-efficient biofuel. To achieve this, it will be necessary to promote the transition towards second generation biofuels (e.g. lignocellulosic ethanol, syngas gas based fuels, pyrolysis oil based biofuels) but also support the implementation of currently available biofuels including biodiesel via integrated production of energy and other added-value products trough biorefineries. The aim of SUSTOIL is to develop advanced biorefinery schemes to convert whole EU oil-rich crops (rapeseed, olive and sunflower) into energy (fuels, power and heat), food and bioproducts (chemicals and/or materials) making optimal uses of the side streams generated during farming/harvesting, primary processing (e.g. oil extraction and refining) and secondary processing (e.g. transesterification). This will be achieved by bringing together the appropriate skills in Europe so as to create a critical mass of expertise necessary to develop the Biorefinery scheme. SUSTOIL will integrate the expertise of a number of Project Partners with the expertise of an Advisory Board composed of experts from the EU, US and beyond. Economic, social and environmental costs benefits of optimal integrated schemes will be assessed and main technological challenges/knowledge gaps will be identified, resulting in recommendations of key activities for future collaborative projects. SUSTOIL will disseminate the results of the action via the media, a dedicated website and the internationally recognised Renewable Resources and Biorefinery conference series


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: WASTE-2-2014 | Award Amount: 9.44M | Year: 2015

The overall aim of the REFRESH project is to contribute significantly towards the objective of reducing food waste across the EU by 30% by 2025 (which amounts to between 25 to 40 million tonnes of food not being wasted in 2025[1], worth tens of billions of Euros a year) and maximizing the value from unavoidable food waste and packaging materials. To achieve this ambitious goal, we will adopt a systemic approach and use cutting edge science to enable action by businesses, consumers and public authorities. A central ambition of the REFRESH project is to develop a Framework for Action model that is based on strategic agreements across all stages of the supply chain (backed by Governments), delivered through collaborative working and supported by evidence-based tools to allow targeted, cost effective interventions. Success will support transformation towards a more sustainable and secure EU food system, benefitting Europes economy, environment and society.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: SEAC-2-2014 | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2015

The Enhancing Responsible Research and Innovation through Curricula in Higher Education (EnRRICH) project will build the capacity of staff in higher education to facilitate their students development of knowledge, skills and attitudes and competencies in responsible research and innovation, and respond to the research needs of society, particularly underserved civil society organisations (CSOs). It will do this by identifying, developing, testing, and disseminating resources, based on existing good practice and trials of new initiatives, to embed the five RRI keys in academic curricula across Europe, with specific reference to science and engineering. It will develop case studies which showcase examples for students, teachers, professional trainers and academic staff of HEIs. Through ongoing dialogue with academics, policymakers, and CSOs, EnRRICH will kick start debates at institutional, national and international levels to create awareness of, and enhance the policy context for, RRI in curricula and thereby produce more responsible and responsive graduates and researchers. These objectives will be achieved building on the Public Engagement with Research and Research Engagement with Society (PERARES) and RRI Tools projects. It will involve new partners as well as a core of established partners drawn from HEIs and CSOs, including from RRI tools. It will establish an advisory board drawn from relevant organisations to ensure the widest possible engagement and dissemination. Work packages will deal with project management, state of the art of good practices in introducing RRI into curriculum development, exchange and trialling of good practices at national, international and transdisciplinary levels, policy development, evaluation, dissemination and a conference. Deliverables will include case studies and policy papers, and materials and resources for academic staff to involve students in experiential learning about RRI, including projects in partnership with CSOs


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: BG-01-2015 | Award Amount: 10.23M | Year: 2016

The objective of SponGES is to develop an integrated ecosystem-based approach to preserve and sustainably use vulnerable sponge ecosystems of the North Atlantic. The SponGES consortium, an international and interdisciplinary collaboration of research institutions, environmental non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, will focus on one of the most diverse, ecologically and biologically important and vulnerable marine ecosystems of the deep-sea - sponge grounds that to date have received very little research and conservation attention. Our approach will address the scope and challenges of ECs Blue Growth Call by strengthening the knowledge base, improving innovation, predicting changes, and providing decision support tools for management and sustainable use of marine resources. SponGES will fill knowledge gaps on vulnerable sponge ecosystems and provide guidelines for their preservation and sustainable exploitation. North Atlantic deep-sea sponge grounds will be mapped and characterized, and a geographical information system on sponge grounds will be developed to determine drivers of past and present distribution. Diversity, biogeographic and connectivity patterns will be investigated through a genomic approach. Function of sponge ecosystems and the goods and services they provide, e.g. in habitat provision, bentho-pelagic coupling and biogeochemical cycling will be identified and quantified. This project will further unlock the potential of sponge grounds for innovative blue biotechnology namely towards drug discovery and tissue engineering. It will improve predictive capacities by quantifying threats related to fishing, climate change, and local disturbances. SpongeGES outputs will form the basis for modeling and predicting future ecosystem dynamics under environmental changes. SponGES will develop an adaptive ecosystem-based management plan that enables conservation and good governance of these marine resources on regional and international levels.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-07b-2015 | Award Amount: 9.01M | Year: 2016

This aim of IMAGE is to enhance the use of genetic collections and to upgrade animal gene bank management. IMAGE will better exploit DNA information and develop methodologies, biotechnologies, and bioinformatics for rationalising animal genetic resources. It will demonstrate the benefits brought by gene banks to the development of sustainable livestock systems by: enhancing the usefulness of genetic collections to allow the livestock sector to respond to environment and market changes; using latest DNA technology and reproductive physiology for collecting, storing and distributing biological resources; Minimising genetic accidents such as abnormalities or genetic variability tipping points; Developing synergies between ex-situ and in-situ conservation to maximise resources for the future. To this end, the project will involve stakeholders, SME, and academic partners to achieve the following objectives. At the scientific level, the project will: Assess the diversity available in genetic collections; Search for adaptive traits through landscape genetics in local populations; Contribute to elucidate local populations and major genes history; Identify detrimental variants that can contribute to inbreeding depression; Predict cryobank samples reproductive performance; Facilitate the use of collections for genome-assisted breeding. At the technological level, it will develop: Procedures for harmonising gene bank operations and rationalising collections; Conservation and reproductive biotechnologies; A central information system to connect available data on germplasm and genomic collections. At the applied level, it will develop methods and tools for stakeholders to: Restore genetic diversity in livestock populations; Create or reconstruct breeds fitting new environmental constraints and consumer demands; Facilitate cryobanking for local breeds; Define and track breed-based product brands; Implement access and benefit sharing regulations.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: SFS-24-2016 | Award Amount: 2.00M | Year: 2017

EURASTIP will evaluate and prepare for the launch of an international multi-stakeholder platform (MSP), so as to provide a new mechanism to create and reinforce international cooperation on sustainable aquaculture between Europe and South-East Asia and will focus on actions that will provide mutual benefit to both regions. EURASTIP, headed by the European Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Platform (EATiP) will create and support 3 National Pilot multi-stakeholder Platforms (NPPs) in major aquaculture producing countries (Thailand, Vietnam and Bangladesh) and develop road-map models for others in the region, providing the foundation for an international MSP. It will create, develop and reinforce the networking needed for the promotion of B2B partnerships, using European and SE Asian networks, realising international brokerage events and promoting cooperation. EURASTIP will identify and address common standards for aquaculture site planning, animal health, food product safety and farm governance, supporting sustainable aquaculture development. Focus is given to reinforcing professional skills and competences in industry and research, using European and SE Asian education networks and industrial apprenticeship opportunities. The NPPs will develop vision documents, strategic research and innovation agendas (SRIAs), priorities and proposed actions; these will feed into EURASTIP impact measurement and including influence on national and regional policies. Attention is given to widespread dissemination actions, promoting EURASTIP in SE Asia and in Europe, encouraging a strong legacy position. URASTIP will provide recommendations and a plan for the establishment of an international MSP, covering its scope and operation further to the project timeline, leading to reinforced long-term international cooperation efforts and opportunities.


Patent
University of Groningen, University of Aberdeen, Wageningen University and Academisch Ziekenhuis Groningen | Date: 2014-03-05

The present invention relates to medicine, particularly immunology and gastroenterology. Specifically, it relates to probiotic bacteria and extracts thereof for therapeutic use for the treatment of inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease. Provided is a composition comprising as active ingredient Faecalibacterium prausnitzii strain HTF-F (DSM 26943) or an extract thereof comprising extracellular polymeric matrix (EPM), and an acceptable carrier, diluent or excipient. Also provided is an anti-inflammatory composition comprising EPM extracted from F. prausnitzii strain HTF-F, and a method for preparing the same.


Norde W.,Wageningen University | Norde W.,University of Groningen | Lyklema J.,Wageningen University
Advances in Colloid and Interface Science | Year: 2012

Some basic elements of the adsorption of proteins on solid surfaces are briefly reviewed, emphasizing immunoglobulins. The paper focuses on the physicochemical interactions and considers the precautions that have to be taken to let the protein adsorb in a way in which it is biologically active. Contributing factors include surface pretreatment, composition of the solution, (pH, nature and concentration of electrolytes, etc.), extent of reversibility, and lateral interactions in the adsorbed state. Particular attention is paid to the option of partially pre-coating the adsorbent by irreversibly adsorbed polymers to induce the later adsorbing immune globulin molecules to assume a biologically preferred orientation and conformation. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE.2012.2.5-03 | Award Amount: 3.70M | Year: 2013

General objective of the project is to integrate advancement in scientific knowledge about the impact of food chains with application of knowledge to practice to increase food chains sustainability through public policies and private strategies. This general objective will be pursued through the following specific objectives: To develop and validate a performance criteria matrix for assessment and comparison of food chains operating at a range of geographical scales through analysis of how food chain impacts are communicated in different spheres of society. To build a database of quantifiable indicators of impact and a set of 20 case studies aimed at understanding how impacts are generated within specific food chains. To advance knowledge on methodological problems and trade-offs arising when measuring and comparing the impact of food chains within and between sectors. To assess how performance is perceived by stakeholders in different national contexts through participatory assessment and multicriteria analysis of the different typologies of food chains. To assess the actual and potential role of public and private policies addressing food chains and to turn assessment into policy recommendations. To build a network that turns the advancement of scientific knowledge into decision making tools for domestic and public consumers, producers, citizens, scientists, policy makers, civil society organizations. The project will be developed around the following assumptions: Costs and benefits analysis needs methodological update: for this reason the broader concept of performance is used The performance of food chains has multiple dimensions (economic, social, environmental, health, ethical) To turn knowledge into practice a demand-driven approach is necessary, focusing on how food choice affects the five dimensions of impact The complexity of impacts of food chains requires plurality of methods and transdisciplinarity


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP-SICA | Phase: ENV.2011.4.1.1-1 | Award Amount: 8.67M | Year: 2011

Today, countries use a wide variety of methods to monitor the carbon cycle and it is difficult to compare data from country to country and to get a clear global picture. The current global observational and modelling capabilities allow us to produce estimates of carbon budget at different level (from local to global) but many uncertainties still remain. Decision makers need now more than ever systematic, consistent and transparent data, information and tools for an independent and reliable verification process of greenhouse gas emissions and sinks. Therefore higher quality and quantity of CO2 and CH4 data, from different domains and with an enhanced spatial and temporal resolution, need to be collected by a globally integrated observation and analysis system. This can be obtained by the coordinated Global Carbon Observation and Analysis System that this project aims at designing, addressing the climate targets of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) toward building a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) for carbon. Specific objectives of the GEOCARBON project are: Provide an aggregated set of harmonized global carbon data information (integrating the land, ocean, atmosphere and human dimension) Develop improved Carbon Cycle Data Assimilation Systems (CCDAS) Define the specifications for an operational Global Carbon Observing System Provide improved regional carbon budgets of Amazon and Central Africa Provide comprehensive and synthetic information on the annual sources and sinks of CO2 for the globe and for large ocean and land regions Improve the assessment of global CH4 sources and sinks and develop the CH4 observing system component Provide an economic assessment of the value of an enhanced Global Carbon Observing System Strengthen the effectiveness of the European (and global) Carbon Community participation in the GEO system


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2009-1-2-13 | Award Amount: 5.09M | Year: 2010

The recent decline of European eel (Anguilla anguilla) and no signs of recovery has brought attention to the biologically unsustainable exploitation of the stock. In September 2007, the EU has adopted the Council Regulation 1100/2007 establishing measures for the recovery of the European eel stock. However, eel are still fished intensively for human consumption while aquaculture and restocking rely exclusively on the supply of glass eels caught each year. A controlled production of eel larvae is ever more urgent. The objective of PRO-EEL is to develop standardised protocols for production of high quality gametes, viable eggs and feeding larvae. The approach is to expand knowledge about the intricate hormonal control and physiology of eels which complicates artificial reproduction. This knowledge will be applied in the development of suitable methods to induce maturation considering different rearing conditions. Knowledge about the gametogenesis and maturation pattern will be developed in small scale tests and applied to establish standardised fertilisation procedures. New knowledge about functional anatomy of embryos and yolksac larvae will be applied to develop suitable feed. Protocols for larval production will be tested in full scale experimental facilities managed in collaboration with a qualified SME. The integrated protocols and technology development will be evaluated relative to the output of healthy embryos and yolksac larvae. Larval feeds will be developed towards pioneering first-feeding in European eel larvae, which will be a major breakthrough and promising step towards a self-sustained aquaculture. The strength of the project is its interdisciplinary approach and the unique expertise of the consortium. PRO-EEL brings together leading institutes in eel reproduction complemented by excellence in disciplines filling gaps in knowledge and technology. A tight collaboration with the aquaculture industry promotes the applicability of developed technology.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SSH-2007-2.2-02 | Award Amount: 1.88M | Year: 2008

European rural areas are undergoing major changes, including the impacts of migration, changes in settlement patterns, demographic ageing, changes in the nature of rural-urban interactions, a decreasing role of agriculture in terms of income and employment, and changes in governance systems. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is the main expenditure chapter of the EU and is directly affecting the economy of rural areas. Assessing the impact of the CAP will help in re-addressing the CAP in the wider framework of EU policy objectives. The objective of the project CAP-IRE is to develop concepts and tools to support future CAP design, based on an improved understanding of long term socio-economic mechanisms of change in rural areas. Concepts and tools will be developed, shaped by state of art literature and a wide empirical testing. Coverage includes case study regions in 9 countries of the EU. The focus will be farm households as the reference agents in the connection between policy and socio-economic change, as well as between agriculture and other sectors of the economy. Account of the wider non-EU and non-rural scenarios will be taken. The first step of the project will be to devise concepts and tools able to fill the gaps in present knowledge on development in rural areas. In the second step, these concepts and tools will be applied in an empirical analysis of mechanisms of change in selected case study areas. In a third step, tools will be used to assess the impact of CAP in the selected areas. Expected results concern: an improved conceptual view of CAP relationships in the context of changing rural areas and a framework to assess reciprocal impacts between CAP and other drivers of change in a long term perspective; models and tools to assess changes in rural areas, with particular attention to the connection between CAP and other drivers; an assessment of present dynamics of change, including impacts of CAP in the selected case study areas.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2013.1.3-05 | Award Amount: 11.61M | Year: 2013

EFFORT studies the complex epidemiology and ecology of antimicrobial resistance and the interactions between bacterial communities, commensals and pathogens in animals, the food chain and the environment.This will be conducted by a combination of epidemiological and ecological studies using newly developed molecular and bio-informatics technologies. EFFORT will include an exposure assessment of humans from animal/environmental sources. The ecological studies on isolates will be verified by in vitro and in vivo studies. Moreover, real-life intervention studies will be conducted aiming at reducing the use of antimicrobials in veterinary practice. Focus will be on understanding the eco-epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance from animal origin and based on this, predicting and limiting the future evolution and exposure to humans of the most clinically important resistance by synthesising different sources of information in our prediction models. Through its results, the EFFORT research will provide scientific evidence and high quality data that will inform decision makers, the scientific community and other stakeholders about the consequences of AMR in the food chain, in relation to animal health and welfare, food safety and economic aspects. These results can be used to support political decisions and to prioritize risk management options along the food chain. The EFFORT consortium is made up of 20 partners from 10 European countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. The senior investigators leading this proposal bring together complementary strengths antimicrobial resistance, food safety, epidemiology of food borne pathogens and risk modelling, environmental epidemiology and microbial ecology, exposure assessment, veterinary microbiology, preventive molecular characterization of AMR, genetics and biology of DNA transfer mechanisms, whole genome sequencing for bacteria and economics of animal diseases


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2013.3.3-04 | Award Amount: 11.20M | Year: 2013

The INDOX proposal on industrial oxidoreductases aims to provide relevant industrial case stories to demonstrate the efficacy of optimized biocatalysts on targeted reactions, and to establish the processes scalability, sustainability and cost-efficiency versus chemical conversion processes. The chemical industry (specialties excluded) is not yet embracing enzymatic oxidation reactions to a significant extent primarily due to lack of biocatalysts with the required selectivity, availability and compatibility with the rigorous process conditions. Selected industrial oxidation and oxyfunctionalization target reactions form the basis for the INDOX screening and optimization of new biocatalysts, including: i) Intermediates for agrochemicals/APIs; ii) Polymer precursors and functionalized polymers; and iii) Intermediates for dye-stuffs. The project flow comprises: i) Recovery of selective biocatalysts from the groups of heme-peroxidases/peroxygenases, flavo-oxidases and copper-oxidoreductases from fungal genomes and other sources; ii) Improvement of their oxidative activity and stability by protein engineering (using rational design, directed evolution and hybrid approaches combined with computational calculations) to fulfill the operational and catalytic conditions required by the chemical industry; and iii) Optimization of reaction conditions and reactor configurations (including immobilization technologies and new enzymatic cascade reactions). Finally the cost efficiency compared to chemical processing will be evaluated. The INDOX approach is supported by a highly-specialized consortium of SMEs, large companies and research/academic institutions. Production of the new optimized biocatalysts and their introduction into the chemical market will take advantage from the participation of the world-leading company in the sector of industrial enzymes, together with several chemical companies willing to implement the new medium- and large-scale biotransformation processes.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2011.2.1.4-2 | Award Amount: 7.72M | Year: 2012

The aim of CASCADE is to obtain a better understanding of sudden ecosystem shifts that may lead to major losses in biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to define measures that can be used to prevent such shifts. The focus of CASCADE is explicitly on drylands as being one of the most fragile and threatened ecosystems in Europe. CASCADE will investigate the historical evolution of dryland ecosystems in six Mediterranean study sites, and improve understanding of the biogeochemical mechanisms underlying sudden and catastrophic shifts through a combination of experimentation and modeling. Experiments in laboratory and field will be used to assess the biogeochemical processes that are thought to underlie regime shifts in drylands, to study the interplay between competition and facilitation, and to assess the effects of biotic and abiotic processes on vegetation structure and composition. Field surveys will identify changes in ecosystem structure and functions that indicate approaching or crossing of tipping points, link these findings to experimental results, and assess potentials for restoration. Models will be developed to describe regime shifts in the studied drylands in terms of changes in vegetation composition, abundance and spatial patterning. Based on both experimentation and modelling, CASCADE will develop management schemes for sustainable resource use and conservation of ecosystem services. By combining physical with socio-economic modeling, measures will be defined that work from an ecological as well as a socio-economic perspective. The results of CASCADE will be made accessible to natural resource and biodiversity managers, policy makers, and other audiences, using a variety of dissemination methods such as reports, booklets, newsletters, meetings, videos, and TV. All project results and recommendations will be stored and made accessible to the public by developing a web-based harmonized CASCADE information system (CASCADIS).


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN | Award Amount: 4.10M | Year: 2012

Europe must face the Grand Challenges of climate change and global warming, which will seriously affect the production of foods, including animal feeds. Tightening supplies of energy, foods and feeds will further impact on food security. Feeding animals in Europe with large quantities of imported soyabeans is not sustainable. Home-grown protein sources, such as forage legumes, offer a valuable alternative, but ruminant animals make inefficient use of protein from most forage legumes. LegumePlus proposes to investigate alternative forage legumes, which increase feed use efficiency through their bioactive polyphenols. In addition to tackling such sustainability issues, they will also contribute to livestock health, welfare and reduce environmental emissions. LegumePlus will study the efficacy of bioactive legumes to i) optimise ruminant nutrition, ii) reduce greenhouse gas emissions and iii) improve milk, cheese and meat quality. It will also investigate how bioactive legumes can control parasitic worms in animals. This network will enable integrated multidisciplinary and intersectoral research training. New tools for comparative genomics in plant breeding will be harnessed and exploited to benefit ruminants and the environment. A new generation of agricultural biotechnologists will be trained to work across disciplines and solve sustainability and bioresource issues. Young researchers will acquire a thorough understanding of ruminant nutrition and parasitology, analytical chemistry and plant breeding and excellent training in state-of-the-art and industrially relevant scientific skills. Close collaboration between participants from the public and private sectors will ensure that the training programme will enhance the employability of young researchers and meet employers requirements for interdisciplinary and transferrable skills. This will contribute to the EU policy aim of transforming Europe into an eco-efficient, knowledge based bio-economy.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2009.1.1.6.1 | Award Amount: 4.16M | Year: 2010

CLIMSAVE will develop and apply an integrated methodology for stakeholder-led, climate change impact and vulnerability assessment that explicitly evaluates regional and continental scale adaptation options, and cross-sectoral interactions between the key sectors driving landscape change in Europe (agriculture, forests, biodiversity, coasts/floodplains, water resources, urban development and transport). A range of sectoral meta-models will be linked within a common assessment platform that is user-friendly, interactive and web-based to allow the rapid reproduction of climate change impacts by stakeholders themselves. The meta-models will be derived from detailed state-of-the-art models which represent the latest results on impacts of, and vulnerability to, climate change and which are appropriate for multi-scale spatially explicit impact studies. Indicator metrics, which translate the outputs from the integrated models into ecosystem services outcomes, will create a standardised approach across sectors ensuring comparability in quantifying impacts and vulnerability. The integrated assessment platform will use these metrics to identify hotspots of climate change vulnerability and provide the ability to assess adaptation strategies for reducing these vulnerabilities, in terms of their cost-effectiveness and cross-sectoral benefits and conflicts. Methods for reducing uncertainties and increasing the transparency of model and scenario assumptions will be implemented to inform the development of robust policy responses. A series of professionally facilitated workshops will identify stakeholder needs and test an innovative methodology for participatory scenario development specifically geared towards interactive climate change impact and adaptation assessment. Two sets of three workshops at two levels (European and regional) will ensure that the CLIMSAVE methodologies work at different scales and provide for continuity of engagement and mutual learning.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2009.2.2.1.1 | Award Amount: 8.27M | Year: 2010

The overall aim of the ODEMM project is to develop a set of fully-costed ecosystem management options that would deliver the objectives of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive, the European Commission Blue Book and the Guidelines for the Integrated Approach to Maritime Policy. This will be achieved by: (i) providing a comprehensive knowledge base to support policy for the development of sustainable and integrated management of European marine ecosystems; (ii) developing Operational Objectives to achieve the High-Level Policy Objectives set by the MSFD and the HD, and with reference to the proposed Maritime Policy; (iii) identifying Management Options (individual management tools and combinations of tools) to meet the Operational Objectives; (iv) providing a risk assessment framework for the evaluation of Management Options and to assess the risk associated with the different options; (v) conducting a cost-benefit analysis of a range of Management Options using appropriate techniques; (vi) identifying stakeholder opinions on the creation of governance structures directed towards implementation of the ecosystem approach, and to elaborate different scenarios for changing governance structures and legislation to facilitate a gradual transition from the current fragmented management approach towards fully integrated ecosystem management; (vii) documenting the steps necessary for the transition from the current fragmented management scheme to a mature and integrated approach, and providing a toolkit that could be used to evaluate options for delivering ecosystem-based management; and (viii) communicating and consulting on the outcomes of the project effectively with policy makers and other relevant user groups.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENERGY.2009.3.2.3 | Award Amount: 4.66M | Year: 2010

SUNLIBB brings together key researchers and industrial innovators working to overcome technical barriers all along the pipeline for second generation bioethanol production. The range of research spans from feedstock improvement, through innovations in pretreatment and saccharification, the generation of added value products, especially from lignin, and innovations in fermentation. The project brings together world-leading scientists with innovative new industries working in the biorefinery and renewable products areas. Our work is focussed on C4 grasses as these encompass maize, miscanthus and sugarcane, and these closely related species are major bioenergy crops in Europe and Brazil. The programme of work aims to: (1) Improve the feedstock quality of lignocellulose in biofuels crops to allow truly cost-effective ethanol production; (2) add value to the overall process of conversion in biomass biorefining by upgrading residues and by-products and producing new value streams in addition to bioethanol; (3) improve the conversion process by which we produce sugars; (4) improve fermentation efficiency; (5) develop integrated processes that capture maximum value from lignocellulosic biomass; (6) ensure that the new processes developed fulfil sustainability requirements by reducing GHG emissions, cutting other forms of air pollution, have minimal impacts on local environments and biodiversity, build sustainable rural industries, and do not impact on food production and prices. Our cooperative partner in Brazil, CEProBIO, brings together almost all of the leading research centres for second generation bioethanol production in that nation, along with a number of key industrial partners. The cooperation between SUNLIBB and CEProBIO represents an opportunity to bring together some of the best researchers in our respective regions to work on a globally important issue.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-ITN-2008 | Award Amount: 5.02M | Year: 2009

There is widespread concern about how production and use of chemicals affect the environment. Yet food production and benefits of chemical products are vital for the functioning of European societies. In order to ensure sustainable use, EU regulations require extensive risk assessment before a chemical is approved for use. Current risk assessments focus on risk at the level of individual organisms, but according to EU directives the protection goal aims at achieving sustainable populations. Population-level effects depend not only on exposure and toxicity, but also on important ecological factors that are impossible to fully address empirically. Mechanistic effect models (MEMs) enable the integration of these factors, thus increasing the ecological relevance of risk assessments as well as providing vital understanding of how chemicals interact with ecosystems. Such understanding is crucial for improving risk mitigation strategies and ecosystem management. So far, however, regulators and industry have lacked understanding of the potential benefits that MEMs can deliver, and academics have been inconsistent in the approaches applied. This has led to scepticism about models, preventing a wider use of MEMs in risk assessment. Examples clearly demonstrating the power of MEMs for risk assessment are urgently needed, and industry, academia and regulatory authorities across Europe need scientists that are trained in both MEMs and regulatory risk assessment. CREAM will develop and experimentally validate a suite of MEMs for organisms relevant for chemical risk assessments. The consortium includes the main sectors involved (industry, academia, regulators) and will formulate Good Modelling Practice that will be followed in all individual projects, thus leading to consistency and transparency. CREAM will provide world class training for the next generation of ecological modellers, emphasizing transparency and rigorous model evaluation as core elements of the modelling process.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2012-2.2.4. | Award Amount: 6.56M | Year: 2012

The Infrastructure for Systems Biology in Europe (ISBE) programme comprises an infrastructure that is designed to meet the needs of European systems biology, in terms of development, applications and training. In order to address this requirement, we are proposing a distributed, interconnected infrastructure which primarily comprises three types of centres: Data Integration Centres (DICs), and systems biology dedicated Data Generation Centres (DGCs), and Data Stewardship Centres (DSCs). DICs are research centres that apply and develop expertise in model-driven data integration and make this expertise available to the community. DGCs are technology-based centres that make available a wide range of high, medium and low throughput technologies that are essential for the acquisition of quantitative datasets under standardised conditions. DSCs are centres that are responsible for data processing, curation and analysis they store data, models and simulations. Each type of centre will be functionally different, but organisationally similar. Within participating universities and other organisations across Europe there will be foci of expertise and facilities which fit the requirements for a DIC, DGC or DSC. Such foci will be evaluated and then designated as local centres of a particular type. Each focus will then form a component of a particular type of DIC, DGC or DSC centre. ISBE centres may be single institutions or can be distributed. Large institutions, such as leading universities, may well contribute facilities and expertise across different types of centres. A particular distributed centre may focus on an area of Systems Biology; for example, a model organism, a disease, or, alternatively an area such as biotechnology, ecology or green biology. Importantly, the ISBE will include technological expertise; for example, stochastic computation, algorithmic modelling, multi-scale modelling integration of diverse high-and low-throughput datasets.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP-SICA | Phase: KBBE-2009-2-4-02 | Award Amount: 7.82M | Year: 2010

Plant food supplements, or botanicals, have high acceptance by European consumers. Potentially, they can deliver significant health benefits, safely, and at relatively low costs. New regulations and EFSA guidance are also now in. However, concerns about safety, quality and efficacy of these products remain, and bottle-necks in risk and benefit assessments need to be solved. PlantLIBRA (PLANT food supplements: Levels of Intake, Benefit and Risk Assessment) aims to foster the safe use of food supplements containing plants or herbal extracts, by increasing science-based decision-making by regulators and food chain operators. To make informed decisions, competent authorities and food businesses need more quality-assured and accessible information and better tools (e.g., metadatabanks). PlantLIBRA is structured to develop, validate and disseminate data and methodologies for risk and benefit assessment and implement sustainable international cooperation. International cooperation, on-spot and in-language capacity building are necessary to ensure the quality of the plants imported in the EU. PlantLibra spans 4 continents and 23 partners, comprising leading academics, Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises, industry and non-profit organizations. Through its partners it exploits the databases and methodologies of two Network of Excellences, EuroFIR and Moniqa. Plantlibra will also fill the gap in intake data by conducting harmonized field surveys in the regions of the EU and apply consumer sciences to botanicals. Existing composition and safety data will be collated into a meta-databank and new analytical data and methods will be generated. The overarching aim is to integrate diverse scientific expertise into a single science of botanicals. PlantLIBRA works closely with EFSA since several PlantLIBRA partners or experts are involved in the relevant EFSA Working Groups, and also plans shoulder-to-shoulder cooperation with competent authorities and stakeholders.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.1.2-10 | Award Amount: 8.06M | Year: 2012

European aquaculture production provides direct employment to 65.000 people with a turnover of 3 billion . However, the lack of authorised veterinary medicinal products and the consequent disease outbreaks in farmed fish species costs the sector 20% of the production value. The most appropriate method for disease control, both on economical and ethical grounds, is disease prevention by vaccination. TargetFish will advance the development of existing (but not sufficient) and new prototype vaccines against socio-economically important viral or bacterial pathogens of Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, common carp, sea bass, sea bream and turbot. The project will develop targeted vaccination strategies for currently sub-optimal and for novel vaccines. Improved vaccines will be brought closer to industrial application by addressing practical issues such as efficacy, safety and delivery route. TargetFish will also establish a knowledge- and technology-base for rational development of next generation fish vaccines. To achieve these challenging tasks, we brought together 29 partners from 11 EU member states, 2 associated countries and 1 International Cooperation Partner Country (ICPC). In this large multidisciplinary consortium an approximate equal number of RTD and SME partners will cooperate closely while keeping an intensive communication with the large vaccine and nutrition industries via an Industry Forum. Specifically, TargetFish will 1) generate knowledge by studying antigens and adjuvants for mucosal routes of administration while analyzing the underpinning protective immune mechanisms; 2) validate this knowledge with response assays for monitoring vaccine efficacy and study safety aspects, including those associated with DNA vaccines; 3) approach implementation of prototype vaccines by optimizing vaccination strategies thus 4) shortening the route to exploitation. Thereby, this project will greatly enhance targeted disease prophylaxis in European fish farming.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: KBBE.2011.2.1-01 | Award Amount: 1.20M | Year: 2011

The objective of the CONNECT4ACTION project is to improve communication between consumers, consumer scientists, food technology developers, and other key players in the food technology development and commercialisation process. Focusing on communication and knowledge exchange between food technologists and consumer scientists, the results of the CONNECT4ACTION project will contribute to improvement of the multidisciplinary dialogue and to increase consumer acceptance of new food products, thereby lower the failure rate of new (food) technologies in Europe. A large group of stakeholders (food scientists and technologists from companies, universities and research institutes, together with consumer scientists, ethical experts, representatives of science media/journalist, and consumers) will be connected with the project and each other via the online CONNECT4ACTION community. This online community strengthens the project with input and feedback during various stages and serves as showcase of improved communication. Based on effective communication strategies identified in the relevant literatures and, subsequently, opinions of experts based on their daily practices and experiences, this project will deliver an improved communication framework, accompanied by tools and training materials that enable food technology developers and other key players to step-by-step improve their food technology development processes. This FP7 experienced consortium, consisting of a broad, multidisciplinary network of key players that are involved in food technology development and commercialisation, has the expertise and experience from the field to disseminate and successfully implement innovative communication strategies into daily life activities. Dissemination of project outcomes receives great attention, even after the project is finished. Finally, the networking effort of CONNECT4ACTION will result in a strengthened European cooperation between public and private stakeholders.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.WATER INNO&DEMO-1 | Award Amount: 9.23M | Year: 2014

The objective of INAPRO is to mobilise industry, member states and stakeholders to promote a new and innovative technical and technological approach right up to an Aquaponic system which allows a nearly emission free sustainable production and contributes remarkably to global food security for the 21st century. Considering that traditional Aquaponic systems, combining aquaculture and hydroponics, have a great potential in saving water and energy and recovering nutrients from wastewater by value chains, the project aims at a real breakthrough for these systems towards commercialization. This will be achieved by a) the model based optimisation of the system concept in respect to water consumption and quality, environmental impact, waste avoidance, CO2 release and nutrient recycling, energy efficiency, management efforts and finally costs and b) the integration of new technologies containing cutting edge approaches such as: 1) innovative one-way water supply for horticulture and water retrieval by condensation, 2) alternative water and energy sources, 3) optimized filter systems, 4) intelligent sensor and management network for an optimized system construction and operation. The viability of INAPRO systems will be proved in concept-based demonstration projects both in rural and in urban areas that offer a potential economic advantage while simultaneously reducing water and carbon footprint. The dissemination activities (to policy, public and end-users) will open new market opportunities and improve market access inside and outside Europe for producers and technology suppliers. These ambitions meet perfectly with the EU strategies under Europe 2020 to face the challenges of dramatic water resource developments in Europe and worldwide. The project supports particularly the Innovation Union with the EIP Water as one key initiative and further the Common Agricultural Policy and will consequently be closely connected to an EIP Action Group in agricultural water management.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2012-1.1.15. | Award Amount: 11.18M | Year: 2013

IS-ENES2 is the second phase project of the distributed e-infrastructure of models, model data and metadata of the European Network for Earth System Modelling (ENES). This network gathers together the European modelling community working on understanding and predicting climate variability and change. ENES organizes and supports European contributions to international experiments used in assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This activity provides the predictions on which EU mitigation and adaptation policies are built. IS-ENES2 further integrates the European climate modelling community, stimulates common developments of software for models and their environments, fosters the execution and exploitation of high-end simulations and supports the dissemination of model results to the climate research and impact communities. IS-ENES2 implements the ENES strategy published in 2012 by: extending its services on data from global to regional climate models, supporting metadata developments based on the FP7 METAFOR project, easing access to climate projections for studies on climate impact and preparing common high-resolution modeling experiments for the large European computing facilities. IS-ENES2 also underpins the communitys efforts to prepare for the challenge of future exascale architectures. IS-ENES2 combines expertise in climate modelling, computational science, data management and climate impacts. The central point of entry to IS-ENES2 services, the ENES Portal, integrates information on the European climate models and provides access to models and software environments needed to run and exploit model simulations, as well as to simulation data, metadata and processing utilities. Joint research activities improve the efficient use of high-performance computers and enhance services on models and data. Networking activities increase the cohesion of the European ESM community and advance a coordinated European Network for Earth System modelling.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH-2007-2.1.1-4 | Award Amount: 21.36M | Year: 2008

A detailed understanding of human biology will require not only knowledge of the human genome but also of the human metagenome, defined here as the ensemble of the genomes of human-associated microorganisms. Our proposal focuses on the microorganisms of the gut, which are particularly abundant and complex and have an important role for human health and well-being. We shall implement and integrate the following activities: (i) creation of a reference set of genes and genomes of intestinal microbes, using high fidelity metagenomic sequencing and full genome sequencing of selected bacterial species; (ii) creation of the generic tools, based on the high density DNA arrays and novel ultra-high throughput re-sequencing techniques, to study the variation of human gut microbiota; (iii) use of the tools to search for correlations between the genes present in the gut microbiota and disease, focusing on the inflammatory bowel disease and obesity, the two pathologies of increasing social relevance in Europe; (iv) study of the genes correlated with the disease, both in terms of their function in microbes and their effect on the host, with the focus on host-microbe interactions; (v) development of an informatics resource to store and organize the heterogeneous information generated within the project, such as gene and genome sequences, gene frequencies in healthy and sick individuals or gene functions and also enriched by information relevant to human gut microbiota from the outside of the project; (vi) creation of the bioinformatics tools to carry out the meta-analysis of the information; (vii) creation of an interface with the stakeholders, including an international board to promote cooperation and coordination in the human metagenome field, and general public. Our project will place Europe in a leading position in this field and open avenues to modulate human gut microbiota in a reasoned way, enabling to optimize the health and wellbeing of any individual.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE.2012.2.1-01 | Award Amount: 3.83M | Year: 2012

Health-related symbols and claims may be potentially influential in supporting informed choice, furthering healthier consumer food choices, and strengthening competitiveness of the European food industry in bringing about food products that support a healthier lifestyle. However, current insights into how health symbols and claims are understood and used in real-world shopping situations are limited, making it difficult to derive recommendations on the wording and design of health claims and symbols, including the context in which these appear on the food label. The objectives of this project are to determine how health-related symbols and claims, in their context, are understood by consumers, and how they affect purchasing and consumption, taking into account both individual differences in needs and wants and country-specific differences with regard to use of health claims and symbols. Guidelines will be developed for EU policy directed towards health-related symbols and claims, and a set of methods will be developed that can be used by policy-makers and industry to assess the effects of health claims and symbols as these appear on the market. The project will draw heavily on the involvement of stakeholders from the whole food sector to ensure results with high practical relevance.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN | Award Amount: 3.74M | Year: 2012

Infectious diseases caused by pathogenic micro-organisms are major causes of death, disability, and social and economic disruption for millions of people. During evolution these pathogens have developed intricate strategies to manipulate host defence mechanisms and outwit the immune system. To reduce the burden of infectious diseases it is important to increase understanding of these host-pathogen interaction mechanisms and to develop more effective strategies for drug discovery. The zebrafish holds much promise as a high-throughput drug screening model. In the last few years, zebrafish models for studying human pathogens or closely related animal pathogens have emerged at a rapid pace. The fact that zebrafish produce large amounts of embryos, which develop externally and are optically transparent, gives unprecedented possibilities for live imaging of disease processes and is the basis of novel high-thoughput drug screening approaches. In recent years good models have been developed for toxicity, safety and efficacy of drug screening in zebrafish embryos. However, the major bottleneck for development of high-throughput antimicrobial drug screens has been that infection models rely on manual injection and handling of zebrafish embryos. This limiting factor has been overcome by a unique automated injection system that will be applied in this project. The FishForPharma training network brings together leading European research groups that have pioneered the use of zebrafish infection models and partners from the Biotech and Pharma sectors that aim to commercialise zebrafish tools for biomedical applications. FishForPharma aims to deliver the proof-of-principle for drug discovery using zebrafish infectious disease models and to increase understanding of host-pathogen interaction mechanisms to identify new drug targets for infectious disease treatment. Most importantly, we aim to equip a cohort of young researchers with the knowledge and skills to achieve these goals.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.3.4-02 | Award Amount: 12.10M | Year: 2012

The 4-year SPLASH project will develop a new biobased industrial platform using microalgae as a renewable raw material for the sustainable production and recovery of hydrocarbons and (exo)polysaccharides from the species Botryococcus braunii and further conversion to renewable polymers. The project comprises 20 partners of which 40% SME and several large corporates plus universities and research institutes. Two bioproduction platforms will be explored: (1) green alga Botryococcus braunii on its own and (2) the green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, to which the unique hydrocarbon and polysaccharides producing genes from Botryococcus will be transferred. SPLASH will deliver knowledge, tools and technologies needed for the establishment of a new industry sector: Industrial Biotechnology with algae and/or algal genes for the manufacture of polyesters and polyolefins. The building blocks for these polymers will be derived from the sugars (polyesters) and hydrocarbons (polyolefins) exuded by the algae: adipic acid from galactose, 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid from glucose, rhamnose and fucose, 1,4-pentanediol from rhamnose and fucose, ethylene from green naphtha, propylene from green naphtha. The conversion of ethylene and propylene to polyolefins is common technology, and will not be included in the project. The sugar-derived building blocks will be converted to new condensation polymers, including poly(ethylene 2,5-furandioate) (PEF) and poly(1,4-pentylene adipate-co-2,5-furandioate). End-use applications include food packaging materials and fibres for yarns, ropes and nets. The project encompasses (1) development of Botryococcus as an industrial production platform, (2) Systems biology analysis, (3) Development of procedures for production, in situ extraction and isolation, (4) product development.


GAP2 is about making a difference to an issue of significance to the whole of society; the wellbeing of the marine environment and the sustainability of fisheries upon which society depends for food. It builds on the relationships, processes and plans arising from GAP1 by enabling Mobilisation and Mutual Learning (MML) actions that promote stakeholder participation in the debate on and development of research knowledge and structures relevant to emerging policy on fisheries and the marine environment. A broad range of stakeholders will participate, including actors from civil society organisations, research institutions, universities, national and regional ministries and media organisations. Their work will involve: participatory research actions that integrate the knowledge of stakeholders and scientists and render it useful for management and policy development, critical evaluation of the participatory processes and incorporation of the lessons learned into systems of research and decision making. Global networks will be developed to enable trans- and international cooperation on comparing and establishing good practice. The actions of the participants and the outcomes from GAP2 will provide a concrete realisation of specific Science in Society objectives for engaging the public in research, enabling effective two-way communication between scientists and other stakeholders, and helping to make policy based on scientific evidence and research knowledge. It will contribute to the aim of the Science in Society programme to enhance democratic debate with a more engaged and informed public, by providing better conditions for collective choices on scientific issues relating to sustainable management, conservation of ecosystem integrity and biodiversity of the marine environment.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2010-ITN | Award Amount: 2.89M | Year: 2010

Increasing urban food-related health and environmental problems are raising an urgent need for action. Current agrifood studies tend to neglect the broader societal and spatial impacts of food. PUREFOOD will reduce the high knowledge and skills deficit that negatively affects the capacity to deliver political and developmental solutions related to food security, public procurement, health and sustainable regional development. Through its innovative methodology, the interdisciplinary courses, private and public sector involvement, the holistic conceptualization of sustainable food and the formation of Communities of Practice (CoPs) that include actors at all stages of the food chain, PUREFOOD contributes to Commissions aim to deal with economic, social and environmental policies in mutually reinforcing ways. We study an alternative geography of food, based upon three emerging trends; sustainable food supply chains, public sector food procurement practices and (peri-)urban food strategies. Each is topic of a scientific WP with 4 ESRs in individual research projects using case study methodology. The related training aims to transfer disciplinary scientific knowledge and skills between complementary groups, leading to a coherent frame of basic and advanced scientific, professional and host institute training modules, and to interactively develop scientific and professional knowledge and skills through learning-by-doing in CoPs for each WP. PUREFOOD consists of 7 full academic partners and 8 associated partners (private sector and socio-economic partners). PUREFOODs coordinator has ample experience in managing international interdisciplinary research and training projects. The commitment of private and public organisations and NGOs as associated partners illustrate the timeliness of our proposal and impact to the career perspectives of the ESRs. Completed CDPs give access to a PhD degree at every partner university.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH-2007-2.1.2-5 | Award Amount: 3.88M | Year: 2009

Complex human diseases account for 60% of the deaths in Europe. The genetic variation that is the genetic make-up of all alleles at all loci - of complex disease pathways determines individual disease susceptibility and treatment prospects. Because humans are genetically diverse the EC prioritizes research which leads to a better understanding of the natural variation in genetic pathways underlying complex diseases. But for ethical reasons there is insufficient statistical power to identify these genetic mechanisms in large human populations. Therefore the extent and importance of natural variation in disease signaling pathways of complex human diseases remains largely unknown. PANACEA will investigate the influence of natural variation in genetic pathways in the worm Caenorhabditis elegans. C. elegans is an important model for the identification and characterization of genes associated with cancer in humans. Therefore PANACEA focuses on cancer signaling pathways as a prototypical example of a complex disease. The project will address two pivotal quations: i) how natural genetic variation affects complex disease signaling pathways, and ii) whether we can predict the effect of the natural genetic variation on these pathways. We will collect, store and analyse high-throughput genomic and proteomic data in genetically highly diverse populations. In conjunction with cellular developmental data we will construct a systems biology model aiming to describe and understand the effect of natural variation on cancer signaling pathways. The outcomes will provide i) an extensive data base of novel candidate genes and their genetic variation, and ii) a comprehensive systems biology analysis of how this genetic variation affects cancer development. PANACEA advances the FP6 projects ESBIC-D, CASIMIR and EURATools by providing new data and insights which will strongly benefit the field of systems biology in human health research in the EU.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2007-2-3-01 | Award Amount: 7.33M | Year: 2008

The objective of the CAFE project is to provide new paradigms for the smart control of food processes, on the basis of four typical processes in the areas of bioconversion, separation, preservation and structuring. The novelty of the project lies in the capacity of combining PAT and sensing devices with models and simulation environment with the following objectives : (1) to extract as much as possible information from the process/plant in the form of precise estimations of unmeasured variables defining, in particular, product quality, and of physical parameters changing as the process dynamics does or difficult to know beforehand; (2) to save and encode in a reliable and usable way, basically via physical/deterministic models; and (3) to develop control methods to keep uniform quality and production despite the variability in the raw material and/or to respond to sudden changes in the demand.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.1-1 | Award Amount: 12.17M | Year: 2013

Tropical Atlantic climate recently experienced pronounced shifts of great socio-economic importance. The oceanic changes were largest in the eastern boundary upwelling systems. African countries bordering the Atlantic strongly depend upon their ocean - societal development, fisheries, and tourism. They were strongly affected by these climatic changes and will face important adaptation challenges associated with global warming. Furthermore, these upwelling regions are also of great climatic importance, playing a key role in regulating global climate. Paradoxically, the Tropical Atlantic is a region of key uncertainty in earth-climate system: state-of-the-art climate models exhibit large systematic error, climate change projections are highly uncertain, and it is largely unknown how climate change will impact marine ecosystems. PREFACE aims to address these interconnected issues, and has the following goals: To reduce uncertainties in our knowledge of the functioning of Tropical Atlantic climate. To improve climate prediction and the quantification of climate change impacts in the region. To improve understanding of the cumulative effects of the multiple stressors of climate variability, greenhouse induced climate change, and fisheries on marine ecosystems, and ecosystem services (e.g., fisheries, coastal vulnerability). To assess the socio-economic vulnerabilities and evaluate the resilience of Atlantic African fishing communities to climate-driven ecosystem shifts and global markets. To meet these goals we bring together European and African expertise to combine regional and global scale modelling capabilities, field experiments and observation systems. Our target region includes areas more affected by climate change and by its consequences, European outermost regions, and African countries bordering the Atlantic.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: KBBE.2012.2.2-02 | Award Amount: 2.25M | Year: 2012

Europe is facing major challenges in promoting health and reducing the disease burden of age- and diet-related NCDs by means of lifestyle, food and nutrition. Research collaboration, innovation, and capacity building are essential to efficiently benefit from the mainly public research resources. To realise this, EU-wide Research Infrastructures (RIs) are essential. The aim of EURO-DISH is to provide advanced and feasible recommendations on the needs for RIs to ESFRI and other stakeholders. EURO-DISH will focus on needs for integration of existing and the development of new food and health RIs that are relevant for innovations in mechanistic research and public health nutrition strategies across Europe. Building upon available projects and mappings, we will systematically map existing RIs and needs for integration of existing and new RIs, and supporting governance structures throughout Europe. Food and health research comprises multiple disciplines and a broad research area. To assure a balanced attention for the area as a whole, the mapping will be organised around the DISH model: Determinants, Intake, Status, and Health, which represents four key building blocks of the research area as well as different stages of RI development. To go beyond existing mappings, we will synthesize the results by integrating the needs for hard & soft RIs as well as governance; moreover as this may identify newly emerging gaps and needs, it will define larger entities of required RIs. We will develop a conceptual design and roadmap for implementing the most important RIs. It will include links with basic and human science infrastructures, as well as integration and collaboration with industry, third countries and feasibility. Two case studies on RIs, identified as highly relevant by the JPI HDHL for 2012-2015, will enrich the project by designing and testing of pilot RIs that feed the overall conceptual design and roadmap, which will be aligned with on-going activities.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2007.4.1.3.3. | Award Amount: 3.44M | Year: 2008

Soil and land information is needed for a wide range of applications but available data are often inaccessible, incomplete, or out of date. GEOSS plans a global Earth Observation System and, within this framework, the e-SOTER project addresses the felt need for a global soil and terrain database. As the European contribution to a Global Soil Observing System, it will deliver a web-based regional pilot platform with data, methodology, and applications, using remote sensing to validate, augment and extend existing data. Technical barriers that have to be overcome include: quantitative mapping of landforms; soil parent material and soil attribute characterization and pattern recognition by remote sensing; standardization of methods and measures of soil attributes to convert legacy data. Two major research thrusts involve: 1) improvement of the current SOTER methodology at scale 1:1 million in four windows in Europe, China and Morocco. Moderate-resolution optical remote sensing will be combined existing parent material/geology and soil information, making use of advanced statistical procedures; 2) within 1:250 000-scale pilot areas, advanced remote sensing applications will be developed - geomorphic landscape analysis, geological re-classified remote sensing, and remote sensing of soil attributes. Advances beyond the state of the art include: transformation of pre-existing data and addition of new information with remote sensing and DEM; interpretations of the e-SOTER database that address threats defined in the EU Soil Thematic Strategy and comparing the results with current assessments; and delivery through a web service of a data portal. e-SOTER will deliver a Pilot Platform and a portal that provides open access to: 1) a methodology to create 1:1 million-scale SOTER databases, and an enhanced soil and terrain database at scale 1:1 million for the four windows; 2) an artifact-free 90m digital elevation model; 3) methodologies to create 1:250 000-scale enhanced SOTER databases, and the databases themselves for four pilots; 4) advanced remote sensing techniques to obtain soil attribute data; 5) validation and uncertainty propagation analysis; 6) dedicated applications related to major threats to soil quality and performance.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-COG | Phase: ERC-CoG-2014 | Award Amount: 2.27M | Year: 2015

Severe droughts in Amazonia in 2005 and 2010 caused widespread loss of carbon from the terrestrial biosphere. This loss, almost twice the annual fossil fuel CO2 emissions in the EU, suggests a large sensitivity of the Amazonian carbon balance to a predicted more intense drought regime in the next decades. This is a dangerous inference though, as there is no scientific consensus on the most basic metrics of Amazonian carbon exchange: the gross primary production (GPP) and its response to moisture deficits in the soil and atmosphere. Measuring them on scales that span the whole Amazon forest was thus far impossible, but in this project I aim to deliver the first observation-based estimate of pan-Amazonian GPP and its drought induced variations. My program builds on two recent breakthroughs in our use of stable isotopes (13C, 17O, 18O) in atmospheric CO2: (1) Our discovery that observed C in CO2 in the atmosphere is a quantitative measure for vegetation water-use efficiency over millions of square kilometers, integrating the drought response of individual plants. (2) The possibility to precisely measure the relative ratios of 18O/16O and 17O/16O in CO2, called 17O. Anomalous 17O values are present in air coming down from the stratosphere, but this anomaly is removed upon contact of CO2 with leaf water inside plant stomata. Hence, observed 17O values depend directly on the magnitude of GPP. Both C and 17O measurements are scarce over the Amazon-basin, and I propose more than 7000 new measurements leveraging an established aircraft monitoring program in Brazil. Quantitative interpretation of these observations will break new ground in our use of stable isotopes to understand climate variations, and is facilitated by our renowned numerical modeling system CarbonTracker. My program will answer two burning question in carbon cycle science today: (a) What is the magnitude of GPP in Amazonia? And (b) How does it vary over different intensities of drought?


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-SICA | Phase: KBBE-2007-2-2-04 | Award Amount: 7.73M | Year: 2008

Malnutrition, and especially deficiencies of micronutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin A, undermine the progress towards most of the Millennium Development Goals. In view of the serious coverage, compliance and safety concerns of supplementation, this project aims to identify novel staple food-based approaches to improve micronutrient malnutrition for better health and development of women and children in sub-Saharan Africa. It will focus on the improvement of millet-, sorghum-, maize-, and cassava based (complementary) foods. The genetic potential of staple foods for increasing the micronutrient and antinutrient content will be evaluated and the determinants of success and failure of introducing biofortified staple foods in local farming systems will be assessed. The efficacy of biofortified staple foods with adequate levels of provitamin A will be determined. Concerning fortification, the project will develop and test new approaches to optimise iron and zinc fortification of staple food-based foods. The project will develop improved (traditional) processing methods of the staple foods concerned to enhance micronutrient uptake and bioavailability. The developed approaches in the area of biofortification, fortification and processing will be compared on efficacy of improving iron and zinc intake and status. The safety of the improved staple foods on immunity and infections will be evaluated as well as the impact on cognitive development of young children. Through capacity building and strengthening the scientific and technological excellence in the field of staple food-based approaches in Africa and Europe, the project seeks to significantly contribute to the improvement of the dietary quality of young children and their mothers living in resource poor areas in sub-Saharan Africa. New scientific knowledge will be exploited to strengthen the competitiveness of local SMEs targeted at evidence-based production of healthier (complementary) foods for African children.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2007-1-2-08 | Award Amount: 7.11M | Year: 2008

Dairying is an important sector of EU agriculture, but intensification has been accompanied by an increase in N surplus. This has a negative environmental impact on groundwater (pollution with nitrates), surface water (eutrophication) and on the atmosphere (de-nitrification and ammonia volatilisation). The EU seeks to stimulate measures that improve management of nutrients, waste and water as a start to move to management practices beyond usual good-farming practice. The objective of REDNEX is to develop innovative and practical management approaches for dairy cows that reduce nitrogen excretion into the environment through the optimization of rumen function, an improved understanding and prediction of dietary nitrogen utilization for milk production and excretion in urine and faeces. Novel tools for monitoring these processes and predicting the consequences in terms of N losses onfarm will be developed. At the centre of the project is a detailed mathematical model of N utilization by the cow which will act to integrate results from previous work and from new research carried out in the project. This interlinked research aims to improve the supply of amino acids to be absorbed relative to the quantity and quality of amino acids and carbohydrates in feed allowing a reduction in N intake. Research to understand amino acid absorption, intermediary utilization and the processes involved in the transfer of urea N from blood to the gastro-intestinal tract will further underpin model development and indicate strategies to reduce N losses. To predict N losses on-farm and the impact on profitability, a harmonised applied model will be derived from the mechanistic model and will be supported by tools to better describe feeds and biomarkers to indicate N status. Impact of the research will be enabled by dissemination and knowledge interaction using a participatory approach to include the views of stakeholders and recognition of the need to provide support to EU neighbours.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2007-2-1-03 | Award Amount: 3.71M | Year: 2008

Nutrition labels are potentially a major instrument for enabling consumers to make healthier food choices, but current insights into how nutrition labels are used by consumers in real-world shopping situations are limited, making the science-based formulation of new labelling policies and the evaluation of existing ones difficult. The objectives of this project are to determine how food nutrition labelling can affect dietary choices, consumer habits and food-related health issues by developing and applying an interpretation framework incorporating both the label and other factors/influences. Based on this, guidelines will be developed on use of nutrition labelling for EU policy and the food industry, especially SMEs, which will include recommendations for assessing the impact of ongoing and future legislative and voluntary food labelling schemes. These objectives will be achieved by a work programme covering an analysis of current penetration of and exposure to nutrition labels in the EU, determinants of attention to and reading of nutrition labels, determinants of consumer liking of nutrition labels, understanding how consumers infer healthiness of food products from label information in combination with other sources, in-store use of labels, and effects of label use on dietary intake. The project will draw heavily on the involvement of stakeholders from the whole food sector to ensure results with high practical relevance.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRADEV-1-2014 | Award Amount: 3.09M | Year: 2015

RICHFIELDS Research Infrastructure on Consumer Health and Food Intake using E-science with Linked Data Sharing There is growing interest in consumer health as related to food, behaviour and lifestyle determinants. However, data is fragmented, key information is lacking, and the resulting knowledge gap prohibits policy makers and companies to make effective public health nutrition strategies and reformulation of food products. Making the healthy the easy choice requires knowledge on the context of personal life style choices of EU-citizens. RICHFIELDS will design a world-class infrastructure for innovative research on healthy food choice, preparation and consumption of EU-citizens, closely linked to their behaviour and lifestyle. This unique RI will bridge the gap by linking the agri-food and nutrition-health domains and account for the regional and socio-economic diversity of the EU. The RI will be instrumental to produce a scientifically reliable, technically sound and socio-legally robust evidence-base that enables scientists to efficiently collect, unlock, connect and share research data of EU-citizens. Consumers are central to the design: they harbour crucial information, as they increasingly adopt mobile apps and tech-wear, get access to e-business data and even medical information. Collectively, such real-life-time data create new opportunities for research, by e.g., monitoring of food-behaviour providing personalized feedback. For further testing, detailing and underpinning and theory-building, interfaces will be created to distributed facilities for experimental research, e.g., virtual supermarkets. Further enrichment of data is achieved via interfaces with information systems for food and health. The consumer-focus and the scientific evidence of RICHFIELDS will, via its services, be available to (a) EU-consumers and consumer platforms, (b) stakeholders along the food chain, and (c) policy actors in the agri-food and nutrition-health domain.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2012.6.1-1 | Award Amount: 13.24M | Year: 2012

Recent advances in our understanding and forecasting of climate and climate change have brought us to the point where skilful and useful predictions are being made. These forecasts hold the potential for being of great value for a wide range of decision-makers who are affected by the vagaries of the climate and who would benefit from understanding and better managing climate-related risks. However, such climate information is currently under-used, mis-used, or not used at all. Therefore there exists the opportunity to develop new technologies to properly exploit emerging capability from the climate community, and more importantly, to engage with the users of such technologies to develop useful and useable tools. The EUPORIAS project will develop and deliver reliable predictions of the impacts of future climatic conditions on a number of key sectors (to include water, energy, health, transport, agriculture and tourism), on timescales from seasons to years ahead. The project will do this through a strong engagement with the forecast providers and the users/decision-makers, who are both represented within the project. EUPORIAS will develop climate services and tools targeted to the needs of the users, and will share knowledge to promote the technologies created within the project. EUPORIAS will also improve the users understanding of their vulnerability to varying climatic conditions as well as better prepare them to utilise climate forecasts, thereby reducing risks and costs associated with responding to varying climatic conditions. As a result businesses, governments, NGOs, and society in general will be able to better manage risks and opportunities associated with varying climatic conditions, thus becoming more resilient to the variability of the climate. The project will provide the basis for developing a strong climate service market within Europe, offering the opportunity for businesses to capitalise on improved management of weather and climate risks.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2009-1-2-05 | Award Amount: 9.72M | Year: 2010

DROPS will develop novel methods and strategies aimed at yield maintenance under fluctuating water deficit and at enhanced plant water-use efficiency. We deal with high genotype x environment interaction in the field (any trait can have positive, negative or no effect depending on drought scenarios) with an approach combining Physiology, Genetics, field testing and Ecophysiological modelling. The project targets four traits : seed abortion, vegetative growth maintenance, root system architecture and transpiration efficiency. It deals with maize and durum wheat, plus bread wheat and sorghum for specific tasks. DROPS will: - Develop new screens for identifying drought tolerant genotypes, from phenotyping platforms to the field with indicators which are (i) stable characteristics of genotypes with high heritability in phenotyping platforms (ii) based on novel knowledge (e.g. combinations of metabolite concentrations, sensitivity parameters of models or hormonal balances) (iii) genetically related to target traits and able to predict genotype performance in the field via simulation and/or statistical models. - Explore the natural variation of the four target traits by (i) linking the target traits to physiological pathways, genes or genomic regions (ii) assessing the effects of a large allelic diversity for the four target traits via association genetics. - Support crop improvement strategies by developing methods for estimating the comparative advantages of relevant alleles and traits in fields with contrasting drought scenarios. This will be performed via field experiments and by developing a new generation of crop model able to estimate the effects of alleles on crop growth, yield and water-use efficiency Results and methods will be diffused (i) to breeders via the participation of seed companies and a partnership with a breeder association, (ii) to scientists and students via academic publications, and via practical courses and virtual courses in its website.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: ISIB-04b-2015 | Award Amount: 4.00M | Year: 2016

European forests are expected to provide a broad range of ecosystem services (ES). This capacity is however threatened by the uncertainties of climate change, the complex dynamics of evolving global markets and the pressures for increased use of bioenergy. Such challenges cannot be effectively addressed with an uncritical regional or national commitment to traditional forest management models (FMMs), as these are unlikely to ensure the sustained long-term provisioning of desired ES, let alone their optimised delivery. ALTERFORs goal is thus to facilitate the implementation of FMMs better suited to meeting the challenges of the 21st century by: (1) Identifying and developing FMMs robust in their capacity to deliver ES and overcome projected socio-ecological risks and uncertainties; (2) Assessing the impact of different FMM combinations in terms of resultant ES baskets on the European and landscape level, and (3) Facilitating the implementation of desired FMMs and improving cross-national knowledge transfer regarding their benefits, costs, management, and utilization. The project will involve a consortium of 19 organisations from nine countries chosen due to their possession of the transdisciplinary expertise necessary to achieve these objectives, and for ensuring an encompassing representation of Europes socio-economic conditions and prevailing forest management paradigms. Based on carefully designed case studies, the consortium will make sure realistic models of forest owner behaviour are employed; guarantee the involvement of forest stakeholders throughout the project; anchor the desired FMMs to relevant forest actors; and help disseminate project findings to local, national and European stakeholders. The main long-term impact of ALTERFOR is the implementation of FMMs that secure the capacity of Europes forests to continue providing a balanced ES basket that societies will depend upon over the coming century.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SC1-PM-22-2016 | Award Amount: 15.59M | Year: 2016

ZIKAlliance is a multidisciplinary project with a global One Health approach, built: on a multi-centric network of clinical cohorts in the Caribbean, Central & South America; research sites in countries where the virus has been or is currently circulating (Africa, Asia, Polynesia) or at risk for emergence (Reunion Island); a strong network of European and Brazilian clinical & basic research institutions; and multiple interfaces with other scientific and public health programmes. ZIKAlliance will addrees three key objectives relating to (i) impact of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection during pregnancy and short & medium term effects on newborns, (ii) associated natural history of ZIKV infection in humans and their environment in the context of other circulating arboviruses and (iii) building the overall capacity for preparedness research for future epidemic threats in Latin America & the Caribbean. The project will take advantage of large standardised clinical cohorts of pregnant women and febrile patients in regions of Latin America and the Caribbean were the virus is circulating, expanding a preexisting network established by the IDAMS EU project. I will also benefit of a very strong expertise in basic and environmental sciences, with access to both field work and sophisticated technological infrastructures to characterise virus replication and physiopathology mechanisms. To meet its 3 key objectives, the scientific project has been organised in 9 work packages, with WP2/3 dedicated to clinical research (cohorts, clinical biology, epidemiology & modeling), WP3/4 to basic research (virology & antivirals, pathophysiology & animal models), WP5/6 to environmental research (animal reservoirs, vectors & vector control) , WP7/8 to social sciences & communication, and WP9 to management. The broad consortium set-up allow gathering the necessary expertise for an actual interdisciplinary approach, and operating in a range of countries with contrasting ZIKV epidemiological status.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: ICT-24-2015 | Award Amount: 6.35M | Year: 2016

The TrimBot2020 project will research the robotics and vision technologies to prototype the first outdoor garden trimming robot. The robot will navigate over varying terrain, approach rose bushes, hedges and boxwood topiary, to trim them to an ideal shape. The robot will be based on a modified Bosch Indego robot lawnmower, which will navigate using a user-defined garden map and 3D scene analysis, and then visually servo a novel electric plant cutter. Achieving this will require a combination of robotics and 3D computer vision research and innovation activities. Original developments will be required for 3D sensing of semi-regular surfaces with physical texture (overgrown plant surfaces), coping with outdoor lighting variations, self-localising and navigating over real terrain and around obstacles, visual servoing to align the vehicle with potentially moving target plants, visual servoing to align leaf and branch cutters to a compliant surface, and innovative engineering to deliver all this on a small battery-powered consumer-grade vehicle. Development of these capabilities aligns closely with the Robotics Strategic Research Agenda and Multi-Annual Roadmap aspirations. This project falls clearly in the consumer market domain. It will develop service robotics, advanced perceptual capabilities, mobile manipulation, and flexible and reactive autonomy. As a novel robotics application, the current TRL is 1/2, but the project aims to achieve TRL 5/6. Bosch expects to exploit the projects results to extend its current automated lawnmower product. This exciting project will extend generic robotics and computer vision technologies, explore a new robot application, has an explicit route to market exploitation by an experienced manufacturer, and has a great team with experienced plant roboticists and world-leading computer vision researchers, led by an experienced EC project coordinator.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2011.1.2-11 | Award Amount: 8.00M | Year: 2012

Sustainable development of European fish farming is dependent on the availability, environmental sustainability of feeds relying less and less on capture fisheries derived fishmeal and fish oil. The European aquaculture industry has made a determined shift towards the use of feeds based on alternative ingredients which continue to ensure the health and welfare of fish and the nutritional value of farmed seafood. However, the long term effects of such interventions and over the full life cycle of the major species farmed in Europe need to be determined. To answer this challenge, ARRAINA will define and provide complete data on the quantitative nutrient requirements of the five major fish species and develop sustainable alternative aquaculture feeds tailored to the requirements of these species with reduced levels of fish meal and fish oil. By developing innovative vectors to deliver specific nutrients, ARRAINA will increase significantly the performance at all physiological stages thus improving overall efficiency of fish production. ARRAINA will apply targeted predictive tools to assess the long-term physiological and environmental consequences of these changes in the different species. This will provide flexibility in the use of various ingredients in the formulation of feeds which are cost-efficient, environmentally friendly and which ensure production of seafood of high nutritional value and quality. ARRAINA will design and deliver new pioneering training courses in fish nutrition to increase research capacities and expertise, particularly in countries of the enlarged EU. By developing applied tools and solutions of technological interest in collaborations with SMEs, ARRAINA will further strengthen the links between the scientific community and the EU feed industry and will contribute to increase the productivity and performance of the aquaculture sector leading to competitive advantage to the whole sector at a global level.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2011.1.1.6-1 | Award Amount: 8.45M | Year: 2011

Political discussions on the European goal to limit global warming to 2C demands that discussions are informed by the best available science on projected impacts and possible benefits. IMPACT2C enhances knowledge, quantifies climate change impacts, and adopts a clear and logical structure, with climate and impacts modelling, vulnerabilities, risks and economic costs, as well as potential responses, within a pan-European sector based analysis. IMPACT2C utilises a range of models within a multi-disciplinary international expert team and assesses effects on water, energy, infrastructure, coasts, tourism, forestry, agriculture, ecosystems services, and health and air quality-climate interactions. IMPACT2C introduces key innovations. First, harmonised socio-economic assumptions/scenarios will be used, to ensure that both individual and cross-sector assessments are aligned to the 2C (1.5C) scenario for both impacts and adaptation, e.g. in relation to land-use pressures between agriculture and forestry. Second, it has a core theme of uncertainty, and will develop a methodological framework integrating the uncertainties within and across the different sectors, in a consistent way. In so doing, analysis of adaptation responses under uncertainty will be enhanced. Finally, a cross-sectoral perspective is adopted to complement the sector analysis. A number of case studies will be developed for particularly vulnerable areas, subject to multiple impacts (e.g. the Mediterranean), with the focus being on cross-sectoral interactions (e.g. land use competition) and cross-cutting themes (e.g. cities). The project also assesses climate change impacts in some of the worlds most vulnerable regions: Bangladesh, Africa (Nile and Niger basins), and the Maldives. IMPACT2C integrates and synthesises project findings suitable for awareness raising and are readily communicable to a wide audience, and relevant for policy negotiations.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP-SICA | Phase: ENV.2009.2.2.1.5 | Award Amount: 8.58M | Year: 2010

The Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment (FORCE) Project partners a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Europe and the Caribbean to enhance the scientific basis for managing coral reefs in an era of rapid climate change and unprecedented human pressure on coastal resources. The overall aim is to provide coral reef managers with a toolbox of sustainable management practices that minimise the loss of coral reef health and biodiversity. An ecosystem approach is taken that explicitly links the health of the ecosystem with the livelihoods of dependent communities, and identifies the governance structures needed to implement sustainable development. Project outcomes are reached in four steps. First, a series of experimental, observational and modelling studies are carried out to understand both the ultimate and proximate drivers of reef health and therefore identify the chief causes of reef degradation. Second, the project assembles a toolbox of management measures and extends their scope where new research can significantly improve their efficacy. Examples include the first coral-friendly fisheries policies that balance herbivore extraction against the needs of the ecosystem, the incorporation of coral bleaching into marine reserve design, and creation of livelihood enhancement and diversification strategies to reduce fisheries capacity. Third, focus groups and ecological models are used to determine the efficacy of management tools and the governance constraints to their implementation. This step impacts practical reef management by identifying the tools most suited to solving a particular management problem but also benefits high-level policy-makers by highlighting the governance reform needed to implement such tools effectively. Lastly, the exploitation and dissemination of results benefits from continual engagement with practitioners. The project will play an important and measurable role in helping communities adapt to climate change in the Caribbean.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: KBBE-2008-1-4-07 | Award Amount: 1.17M | Year: 2009

PEGASUS aims to provide policy support regarding the development, implementation and commercialisation of GM animals, and derivative foods. The results will contribute to the FP7 KBBE by integrating existing social, (including existing public perception) environmental and economic knowledge regarding GM animals. The use of GM in farmed animals (aquatic and terrestrial) will be reviewed. A foresight exercise will be conducted to predict future developments. Two case studies (1 aquatic, 1 terrestrial) will be applied to identify the pros and cons of GM animals from the perspectives of the production chain (economics, agri-food sector) and the life sciences (human and animal health, environmental impact, animal welfare, sustainable production). Ethical and policy concerns will be refined through application of combined ethical matrix and policy workshops involving EU and non-EU stakeholders. The case studies will be used to demonstrate best practice in public engagement in the policy process. The activities will provide European policy support regarding GM animals and the foods derived from them, taking into account public perceptions, the competitiveness of EU animal production, and risk-benefit assessments linked with human and animal health, environmental impact, and sustainable production. A final stakeholder dissemination workshop will disseminate the results to the EU policy community.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2008.1.1.4.1. | Award Amount: 11.43M | Year: 2009

The European integrating project COMBINE brings together research groups to advance Earth system models (ESMs) for more accurate climate projections and for reduced uncertainty in the prediction of climate and climate change in the next decades. COMBINE will contribute to better assessments of changes in the physical climate system and of their impacts in the societal and economic system. The proposed work will strengthen the scientific base for environmental policies of the EU for the climate negotiations, and will provide input to the IPCC/AR5 process. COMBINE proposes to improve ESMs by including key physical and biogeochemical processes to model more accurately the forcing mechanisms and the feedbacks determining the magnitude of climate change in the 21st century. For this purpose the project will incorporate carbon and nitrogen cycle, aerosols coupled to cloud microphysics and chemistry, proper stratospheric dynamics and increased resolution, ice sheets and permafrost in current Earth system models. COMBINE also proposes to improve initialization techniques to make the best possible use of observation based analyses of ocean and ice to benefit from the predictability of the climate system in predictions of the climate of the next few decades. Combining more realistic models and skilful initialization is expected to reduce the uncertainty in climate projections. Resulting effects will be investigated in the physical climate system and in impacts on water availability and agriculture, globally and in 3 regions under the influence of different climate feedback mechanisms. Results from the comprehensive ESMs will be used in an integrated assessment model to test the underlying assumptions in the scenarios, and hence to contribute to improved scenarios. COMBINE will make use of the experimental design and of the scenarios proposed for IPCC AR5. Therefore the project will be able to contribute to the AR5, by its relevant research and by the contribution of experiments to the IPCC data archives.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2010.2.1.4-4 | Award Amount: 9.99M | Year: 2011

The strategic goal of EcoFINDERS is to provide the EC with tools to design and implement soil strategies aimed at ensuring sustainable use of soils, including: i) Characterisation of European soil biodiversity; ii) Determination of relations between soil biodiversity, soil functions and ecosystem services; iii) Design of policy-relevant and cost-effective indicators for monitoring soil biodiversity. The project will: i) Develop and standardise tools and procedures to measure microbial and faunal diversity; ii) Describe the diversity of soil organisms (microbes and fauna), iii) Decipher the interactions among soil organisms and with plants through foodwebs and iv) Determine the role played by soil organisms in soils ecosystem services (nutrient cycling, carbon storage, water retention, soil structure regulation, resistance to pests and diseases, and regulation of above-ground diversity); iii) Establish cost-effective bioindicators for measuring sustainability of the microbial and faunal diversity and their associated functions (using a combination of metrics and meta-analysis); iv) Evaluate the economic value of ecosystem services, the added value of these bioindicators; v) Develop and implement effective communication strategies to engage the European public around issues associated with the sustainability of soil biodiversity. The overall concept of the project is to develop and integrate the following activities: i) Decipher the links between soil biodiversity, activities, functioning and ecosystem services; ii) Combine three types of approach: observation, experimentation, and computation; iii) Assess the impact of environmental conditions; iv) Integrate information on microbes, fauna and plant communities and analyse how these compartments interact. The general hypotheses are: changes in soil biodiversity indicate the direction and rate of changes in soil functions and associated ecosystem services; application of cost-effective bioindicators brings an economic added value to sustainable soil management.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: KBBE.2011.2.2-04 | Award Amount: 2.33M | Year: 2012

Interventions to improve nutritional status are of critical importance to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Micronutrient deficiencies, mainly iron, zinc, vitamin A and iodine deficiencies affect billions of people worldwide, are responsible for more than one million child deaths per year and prevent a third of the worlds children from reaching their intellectual and physical potential. The SMILING project Sustainable Micronutrient Interventions to controL deficiencies and Improved Nutritional status and General health in Asia will produce a new, feasible and sustainable nutrition intervention agenda, which will be country-specific and directed to women of reproductive age (non-pregnant women, pregnant and lactating women) and young children under 2 years of age. The project focuses specifically on the South-East Asian region because of the diversity in the extent and severity of malnutrition in that region and on the diversity of political, economic, social and cultural contexts. The SMILING proposal deliberately avoids expressing pre-conceived views on which interventions should be prioritized currently or in the future as the deliverables of the Action will reflect the views and opinions of a wide range of stakeholders in the region who will be consulted during the project. The ultimate objective of the Action is to integrate priorities for appropriate, efficient, feasible and sustainable interventions to improve micronutrient status, health and development of women of reproductive age and young children primarily into the national policies of the five target countries in SE Asia and in the agenda of the civil society, private sector, international organizations and NGOs. The goal is not only protecting people from hunger but also to guaranty food and nutritional security to these most vulnerable groups, thereby contributing directly to MDG1, MDG5 and MDG4 and as well by extension to MDG2 and MDG6.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: NMP-2008-4.0-9 | Award Amount: 4.26M | Year: 2009

In several applications of professional textiles and clothes mosquito repellency is an important issue. Two major problems arise: repellents currently in use are harmful, resistance to conventional repellents increases, and the lifetime of release systems is too short. Solving these two problems are the main goals of the NO BUG project. Novel biorepellents will be considered and evaluated as well as two release systems (multilayer coating and textile bioaggregates) in order to repel mosquitoes causing malaria or dengue. Novel release concepts are multilayer coatings and in situ release of the active compounds. Targeted prototypes are textiles for health workers and bed nets (mosquitoes). The project will study what are the best conditions of use of the biorepellents and how to integrate them in the textile products. Testing, exploitation and dissemination will be an active part of the work.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: KBBE.2010.4-01 | Award Amount: 1.12M | Year: 2011

The objective is to further integrate/refine the EuroFIR Food Platform (EFP), to improve/support the ways research is undertaken into relationships between food, diets and health in Europe. Our focus is on extending application and exploitation of validated food data and tools for pan-European nutrition studies and networked usage, implementation of standards and best practice. This together forms the basis of long-term sustainability through the newly established legal entity EuroFIR AISBL). Six Work Packages are included: Quality standards & certification; Systems integration & operational support; Integration & business development; Training; Dissemination & Management. The revised consortium has 35 existing EuroFIR partners (18 as 3rd parties/EuroFIR AISBL members). The already achieved high-level institutional commitment will be further strengthened. The new General Assembly consists of executive representatives of all beneficiaries (who are also AISBL Members), thus real and durable integration is achievable. The Executive Board will work closely with EuroFIR AISBL to provide an integrated approach to joint activities and stakeholder engagements. A high-level External Advisory Board of key users/stakeholders from Europe and internationally will ensure that food data, other products and services are fine-tuned to stakeholders needs, keeping Europe at the forefront of leadership and innovation in this area. Outputs are consistent with the ETP `Food for Life and will further support Theme 2 (FP7) in food and nutrition research contributing to the structuring of the European Research Area and world-class scientific/technological excellence. Additionally, the outputs bring the EFP in alignment with the current European CEN Standard on Food Data and its application.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2011.3.1-02 | Award Amount: 4.00M | Year: 2011

Miscanthus is a C4 perennial rhizomatous grass that has become a leading candidate crop for production of lignocellulosic feedstocks due to its rapid biomass accumulation in temperate climates. There is currently a single commercial clone, M. x giganteus, which has a number of limitations. Research over the past 20 years has shown that a few key species and their interspecific hybrids have a high yield potential whilst requiring low inputs. The overall objective of this project is to optimize the miscanthus bioenergy and bioproduct chain by: trialling elite germplasm types over a range of sites across Europe, Ukraine and Russia; analysing the key traits that currently limit the potential of miscanthus; identifying high-value bioproducts; and modelling the combined results to provide recommendations to policy makers, growers and industry. The outcomes of the project will include screened germplasm and knowledge which will provide solutions to key existing bottlenecks. The specific topics tackled in the field and controlled environment trials are (1) dissection of the traits underpinning tolerance to the abiotic stresses drought, salinity, cold and freezing, (2) yield and quality in a wide range of environments, taking into consideration traits such as senescence, nutrient recycling and nutrient-use efficiency, (3) process-ability of biomass to convenient fuel formats and added-value products. Data gathered will be integrated through the development of modelling parameters needed to build up life-cycle analysis models and other decision support tools to identify optimum production scenarios in the EU, Ukraine and Russia. Recommendations will be provided to miscanthus developers on appropriate genotype selection, propagation and processing methods to maximize the environmental, economic and social benefits. The development of the full potential of miscanthus through OPTIMISC will contribute to Europes transition to a sustainable biobased economy.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2007-1-2-03 | Award Amount: 4.13M | Year: 2008

PRATIQUE (Enhancements of Pest Risk Analysis Techniques) will carry out all the key work listed in the call and address the major challenges for pest risk analysis (PRA) in Europe. This will be achieved through three principal objectives: to assemble the datasets required to construct effective PRAs valid for the whole of the EU, to conduct multi-disciplinary research that enhances the techniques used in PRA and to ensure that the PRA decision support scheme meets its purpose, is efficient and user-friendly. Pest risk analysts, phytosanitary experts, invasive alien species specialists, ecologists, economists and risk modellers from 13 leading institutes in the EU, one from Australia and one from New Zealand will produce the first structured inventory of PRA datasets for the EU and undertake targeted research to improve existing procedures and develop new methods for (a) the assessment of economic, environmental and social impacts, (b) summarising risk in effective, harmonised ways that take account of uncertainty, (c) mapping endangered areas (d) pathway risk analysis and systems approaches and (e) guiding actions during emergencies caused by outbreaks of harmful pests. The results will be tested with a representative range of the major pests and invasive alien species affecting the cultivated and uncultivated habitats of the EU and will be independently validated by phytosanitary experts. The deliverables will be provided as protocols, decision support systems and computer programs with examples of best practice made available to pest risk analysts through modules and direct links to the PRA scheme. The PRA scheme will be web-enabled providing (i) new users with context-sensitive guidance, (ii) experts with a more efficient and user-friendly process and greatly enhanced access to key datasets and analytical tools, (iii) policy makers with an improved and robust scientific basis for managing risks and (iv) stakeholders with a transparent presentation of the risks.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: HEALTH.2011.4.2-2 | Award Amount: 4.07M | Year: 2011

Background: The efficacy of long-acting -agonists (LABAs) in asthma has been demonstrated but their safety remains an issue, particularly in children. Co-therapy with inhaled corticosteroids (ICs) is recommended in persistent asthma. However, drug-use studies suggest frequently inadequate IC adherence, possibly explaining the occurrence of exacerbations. There is a need for detailed analyses of patterns of use of LABAs and ICs to describe asthma outcomes related to LABAs in monotherapy and at different levels of concomitant ICs, to explore the role of adherence in LABA safety, and to identify populations possibly at risk of adverse LABA-related asthma outcomes. Methods: Summarise available evidence on the risks of LABAs in asthma; develop questionnaires and instruments for the study; identify, in the UK and France, paediatric (6-15) and adult (16-40) patients with persistent asthma treated by LABAs; and link distinct datasets for this group using past and ongoing prescriptions provided by GPs and identified from electronic health records, dispensed therapy identified from claims data, information collected from prescribers, and details on exposures and outcomes collected by computer-assisted telephone interviews with patients over a prospective 24-month period. Analyze the linked datasets to characterise individual asthma care in detail and with high validity, describe patterns of use of LABAs and ICs, and relate these patterns to asthma outcomes. Disseminate results to the scientific community, patients associations, physicians associations, and regulators. Deliverables: Ranking of observed patterns of LABA and IC use according to risk of adverse outcomes due to LABAs. Identification from prescriber and patient data of predictors of patterns of use which put patients at risk. Results for regulators to use regarding recommendations to prescribers and patients on the use of LABAs. Assessment of the potential impact of these recommendations on public health.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-SICA | Phase: KBBE-2007-2-1-02 | Award Amount: 3.04M | Year: 2008

The general objective of the FOCUS-BALKANS project is to improve competencies and understanding in the field of consumer food science in the Western Balkan countries (WBC). The scientific results of the research will make important contribution to the public health and consumer protection and to the achievement of the objectives within the FP7. The specific objectives are to: - Develop a network of universities, institutes, high schools, consumer organisations, NGOs and private enterprises active in the field of food consumer science with are able to develop joint-research activities; - Have a better understanding of food consumers in the WBCs, with a focus on products with positive nutritional properties (fruits and health / diet foods) and / or sustainability (organic and traditional food products). Formal training will be organised for key research organisations in the WBCs to enable them to become familiar with state of the art methodologies, practical techniques and theories. The training activities, organised in each WBC-country, target a wide range of organisations from the public and private research sectors, NGOs & consumer associations. 6 regional training meetings will be designed by the project partners and associated organisations. Four studies on niche markets plus one quantitative survey will systematically be conducted by WBC organisations as a mechanism for learning-by-doing. Two open seminars will bring together a wider spectrum of stakeholders including food supply chains representatives and policy-makers. Altogether, these actors will be invited to participate in the Food Consumer Science Balkan Network, which will seek to stimulate regional and interdisciplinary co-operation. The research, training and networking activities are intimately interlinked and will have strong synergies.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.1.1-02 | Award Amount: 7.98M | Year: 2012

The objective of the EU-PLF project is to deliver a validated Blueprint for an animal and farm-centric approach to innovative livestock farming in Europe proven through extensive field studies. This blueprint represents a manual for farmers and their surrounding industry including high tech SMEs and other stakeholders. It is a reference tool offering pragmatic guidance on how Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) systems can be applied to farm level in order to create value for the farmer and other stakeholders. EU-PLF is based on the PLF concept that represents the continuously automated measurements directly on the animal or in its environment. Beyond the use of the PLF data (body movements or sounds, etc.) for monitoring and management, the data can be translated into key indicators on animal welfare, animal health, productivity and environmental impact. Highly experienced European teams from different disciplines with a proven track record in animal and PLF-related fields - animal scientists, veterinarians, ethologists, bio-engineers, engineers, social scientists and economists, leading industrial market players in the livestock industry and high tech SMEs have joined to deliver a useful PLF Blueprint. Most of the academic partners are leading previous research projects funded by the EU in animal and PLF related fields. To ensure that the Blueprint assists the European livestock industry beyond the duration of the project, 50 SMEs or potential starters will be identified all over Europe to play a key role in the EU-PLF project. With a competition for SMEs and starters, the best ideas get funding to design a PLF-prototype with their high tech innovative solutions. In collaboration with a leading industrial PLF-partner, they use the Blueprint to bring their prototype to farm level. This allows developing business models and linking high tech SMEs to European industry players to create new PLF-products with global impact.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2007-1-4-18 | Award Amount: 2.96M | Year: 2008

Pesticides are defined as chemical substances protecting plants from pathogens, insects, nematodes and weeds. They are used to secure yields, improve quality of food and facilitate harvesting. However, their heavy use in agriculture resulted in pest resistance, ground, surface and water contamination as well as possible health problems on farmers/operators and consumers. Within this context, the objective of the proposed research stems from the need to provide a solid methodological framework and empirical evaluation which will assist policymakers in identifying the true impact of pesticides on agricultural production. The obtained results may well serve as a benchmark for the foundation of future EU policy schemes aiming at achieving a sustainable use of pesticides in European agriculture. In this respect, the proposed project intends to provide an accurate assessment of the external costs of agricultural pesticide use and contribute to the relevant EU policies by developing tools for designing a socially optimal tax and levy scheme aimed at the reduction of pesticide use to its socially optimal level. Specific consideration will be given to the effects of the accrued scheme and alternative policy tools on the socially optimal pesticide use, as well as on economic sustainability and social welfare. Moreover, the proposed research will identify means that can help in the promotion of more integrated pesticide management practices. The project fulfils its aims by combining traditional and well-established theoretical methodologies with the most recent advancements in economic theory, biological and technical scientific work, ultimately developing a consistent and integrated analytical framework. The validity of the employed theoretical models and policy tools will be extensively verified by applying them in selected EU countries, thereby accounting for the diversity in pesticide use among producers in different geographical locations.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2010.1.2-05 | Award Amount: 12.35M | Year: 2011

To meet both the worldwide demand for food security and new environmental needs, agriculture must increase food production and quality while decreasing its ecological footprint. Ensuring sustainability and competitiveness with reduced pesticide inputs is a major challenge. PURE will provide integrated pest management (IPM) solutions and a practical toolbox for their implementation in key European farming systems (annual arable and vegetable, perennial, and protected crops) in which reduction of pesticide use and better control of pests will have major effects. PURE will exploit recent advances in emerging technologies, plant-pest-enemies interactions, soil and landscape ecology and pest evolution to feed IPM solutions with innovative diagnostic and decision support systems, physical devices and bio-products, strategies for ecological pest regulation and improved durability of control methods. For each selected farming system, PURE will combine existing methods with new tools and technologies into novel IPM solutions addressing the biological, agronomical and economical diversity in Europe. IPM solutions will range from easy to adopt combinations of tactical control methods to more ambitious solutions involving strategic changes at farm level. PURE will test the efficacy, practicability and relevance of IPM solutions under the agro-ecosystems and farming conditions of the main broad European regions by on-station and on-farm experiments and will perform a comparative assessment of their environmental, economic and social sustainability. By jointly involving researchers and the key actors of pest management (farmers, advisors, policy makers and actors of the food supply chain) in design and assessment, PURE will facilitate the adoption of these innovative IPM solutions. PURE will thereby contribute to reduce the risks to human health and the environment and the dependence on pesticides and will facilitate the implementation of the pesticides package legislation.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-04-2014 | Award Amount: 5.31M | Year: 2015

LANDMARK is a pan-European multi-actor consortium of leading academic and applied research institutes, chambers of agriculture and policy makers that will develop a coherent framework for soil management aimed at sustainable food production across Europe. The LANDMARK proposal builds on the concept that soils are a finite resource that provides a range of ecosystem services known as soil functions. Functions relating to agriculture include: primary productivity, water regulation & purification, carbon-sequestration & regulation, habitat for biodiversity and nutrient provision & cycling. Trade-offs between these functions may occur: for example, management aimed at maximising primary production may inadvertently affect the water purification or habitat functions. This has led to conflicting management recommendations and policy initiatives. There is now an urgent need to develop a coherent scientific and practical framework for the sustainable management of soils. LANDMARK will uniquely respond to the breadth of this challenge by delivering (through multi-actor development): 1. LOCAL SCALE: A toolkit for farmers with cost-effective, practical measures for sustainable (and context specific) soil management. 2. REGIONAL SCALE - A blueprint for a soil monitoring scheme, using harmonised indicators: this will facilitate the assessment of soil functions for different soil types and land-uses for all major EU climatic zones. 3. EU SCALE An assessment of EU policy instruments for incentivising sustainable land management. There have been many individual research initiatives that either address the management & assessment of individual soil functions, or address multiple soil functions, but only at local scales. LANDMARK will build on these existing R&D initiatives: the consortium partners bring together a wide range of significant national and EU datasets, with the ambition of developing an interdisciplinary scientific framework for sustainable soil management.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2011.2.1.6-1 | Award Amount: 8.85M | Year: 2011

The vital environmental and socio-economic role of European forests is well documented and acknowledged in policy documents of both the European Union and its member states. However, there are critical incoherencies within and between trans-national, national and local forest-related land use policies, the central issue being mismatches between the policies and their implementation at the landscape level. Hence, there is a need to improve existing policy and management approaches capable of delivering a better balance between multiple and conflicting demands for forest goods and services. Diminishing mismatches and providing a new policy and management approach that is sensitive to ecological, socioeconomic and political issues of are the main objectives of INTEGRAL. The objectives are achieved by following a research approach with 3 phases: diagnostic analysis of the status-quo (phase 1), participatory development and evaluation of scenarios (phase 2), and problem-solving oriented back-casting for policy development and evaluation (phase 3). The research design will be applied in a total of 20 landscapes in 10 European countries that differ in key characteristics, such as ownership, the importance of forestry and forest-based industries and the priorities of allocation and management of new and existing forest lands. The involvement of national and local stakeholder groups all the way through the project plays a decisive role in the project. The most important long term impact of INTEGRAL consists of the knowledge and competence base for integrating international, national and local levels in participatory decision and planning processes. This includes the development of manuals for how to conduct such processes, methods for utilizing quantitative decision support tools in the participatory process, and the establishment of a body of knowledge among those participating in the extensive case studies. Thus, the consistency of implemented forest policies can be enhanced.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2011.1.3.2-2 | Award Amount: 4.19M | Year: 2011

The project will reduce future Europes vulnerability and risk to drought by innovative in-depth studies that combine drought investigations in six case study areas in water-stressed regions (river basin and national scale) with drought analyses at the pan-European scale. Knowledge transfer across these scales is paramount because vulnerability is context-specific (e.g. physical, environmental, socio-economic, cultural, legal, institutional), which requires analyses on detailed scales, whereas international policies and drought-generating climate drivers and land surface processes are operating on large scales. The project will adopt Science-Policy Interfacing at the various scales, by establishing Case Study Dialogue Fora and a pan-Europe Dialogue Forum, which will ensure that the research will be well integrated into the policy-making from the start of the project onwards. The study will foster a better understanding of past droughts (e.g. underlying processes, occurrences, environmental and socio-economic impacts, past responses), which then will contribute to the assessment of drought hazards and potential vulnerabilities in the 21th C. An innovative methodology for early drought warning at the pan-European scale will be developed, which will improve on the forecasting and a suite of interlinked physical and impact indicators. This will help to increase drought preparedness, and to indentify and implement appropriate Disaster Risk Reduction measures (along the lines of the UN/ISDR HFA). The project will lead through the combined drought studies at different scales to the identification of drought-sensitive regions and sectors across Europe and a more thorough implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive, particularly by further developing of methodologies for Drought Management Plans at different scales (incl. EU level). The work will be linked with the European Drought Centre ensuring that the outcome will be consolidated beyond the project lifetime.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-SME | Phase: SME-1 | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2010

In general, marine fish species have a very short period (a quality window of few hours) when ovulated eggs are of outstanding quality and when fertilization results in high quality embryos and juveniles. Environmental conditions and broodstock tank construction should therefore be conducive to the occurrence of natural spawning, ensuring the collection of embryos of the highest possible quality. Under the correct environmental conditions, the most important of these being temperature and photoperiod regimes, combined with the proper physical surroundings, courtship and mating will take place in populations of captive broodstock. In addition to increasing the quality of the collected eggs, it should also be noted that animal welfare will be significantly improved by replacing stripping with natural spawning - without the use of hormones. Furthermore, it should be noted that some fish species considered to be good candidates for aquaculture are so susceptible to handling that the only feasible method of obtaining embryos will be through natural spawning; two such species are included in the study. While the correct environmental cues will induce natural spawning in captive fish, the physical features of the holding tanks may be manipulated to reduce the negative behavioural traits which may impede courtship. To achieve this end for flatfish, each female will be provided with a breeding nest, a gravel-filled structure, while demersal round-fish species will be held in shallow raceways so broodfish populations can perform schooling behaviour along a high-speed current axis. Both features are expected to facilitate undisturbed courtship. Infra-red cameras will document fish behaviour in the system. The expected improvement of egg quality will be verified through the implementation of different methods and a p


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENERGY-2007-3.5-01 | Award Amount: 5.53M | Year: 2008

SOLAR-H2 brings together 12 world-leading European laboratories to carry out integrated, basic research aimed at achieving renewable hydrogen (H2) production from environmentally safe resources. The vision is to develop novel routes for the production of a Solar-fuel, in our case H2, from the very abundant, effectively inexhaustible resources, solar energy and water. Our multidisciplinary expertise spans from molecular biology, biotechnology, via biochemistry and biophysics to organo-metallic and physical chemistry. The project integrates two frontline research topics: artificial photosynthesis in man-made biomimetic systems, and photobiological H2 production in living organisms. H2 production by these methods on a relevant scale is still distant but has a vast potential and is of utmost importance for the future European economy. The scientific risk is high - the research is very demanding. Thus, our overall objective now, is to explore, integrate and provide the basic science necessary to develop these novel routes and advance them toward new horizons. Along the first track, the knowledge gained from biochemical/biophysical studies of efficient enzymes will be exploited by organometallic chemists to design and synthesize bio-mimetic compounds for artificial photosynthesis. The design of these molecules is based on molecular knowledge about how natural photosynthesis works and how hydrogenase enzymes form H2. Along the second track, we perform research and development on the genetic level to increase our understanding of critical H2 forming reactions in photosynthetic alga and cyanobacteria. These studies are directly aimed at the improvement of the H2 producing capability of the organisms using novel genetic and metabolic engineering. The project also involves research aimed at demonstrating the concept of photobiological H2 production in photobioreactors.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 3.65M | Year: 2013

Global population stands at 7 billion and is predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050. It is anticipated that food production will need to increase by at least 50% to meet the demand arising from this increase in population. This will require a sustained improvement in crop yield. The nature of this challenge is exacerbated by the likely impact of climate change. These factors combine to make Food Security one the key challenges for the 21st century. To deliver improvement and sustainability in crop production it will be necessary to harness a broad spectrum approaches. Crop improvement will be crucial and a major part in the delivery of this will be based on classical breeding. This harnesses the genetic variation that is generated by homologous recombination during meiosis. Meiotic recombination creates new combinations of alleles that confer new phenotypes that can be tested for enhanced performance. It is also crucial in mapping genetic traits and in the introgression of new traits from sources such as wild-crop varieties. Despite the central role played by meiosis in crop production we are remarkably ignorant as to how the process is controlled in these species. For example, it is not known why recombination in cereals and forage grasses is skewed towards the ends of the chromosomes such that an estimated 30-50% of genes rarely, if ever, recombine thereby limiting the genetic variation that is available to plant breeders. Moreover, as many crop species are polyploid a further level of complexity is added to the meiotic process. Over the past 15 years studies in Arabidopsis, many conducted in the laboratories in the COMREC consortium, have provided both insights into the control of meiosis in plants and generated the tools to analyze this process in crop species. It is now timely, to translate this knowledge, training a new generation of young scientists who will gain the expertise to understand and develop strategies to modify recombination in crops.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 2.84M | Year: 2015

List_MAPS is a network dedicated to the training of innovative young researchers in the field of Microbiology and Systems Biology. It focuses on Listeria monocytogenes, an ubiquitous pathogen that is in the EU the leading cause of mortality and food recalls due to foodborne pathogens, costing the EU millions of euro per annum in medical care and associated costs in the food sector. ESRs will develop scientific expertise through PhD training, mobility of researchers, summer schools, workshops and transfer-of-knowledge in the areas of Transcriptomics, Proteomics, Sequencing and Systems Biology. Working in this dynamic state-of-the-art field will provide for training of ESRs to the highest level, with co-operation and movement between academia and industry that will enhance ESR training. The overall objective of the research programme is to tackle food safety through the combination of high throughput Epigenetics, Deep sequencing of transcripts, Proteomics, Bioinformatics, Mathematics and Microbiology to decipher the transcriptional regulatory circuitry that drives adaptation and virulence of L. monocytogenes from farm to fork. This information will be exploited to understand how environmental conditions and food composition can influence GI tract adaptation/virulence and to develop an innovative transcriptome-based tool to assess in silico the virulence of large collections of isolates. This developed tool aims at replacing the currently used burdensome animal models. In addition to excellent scientific competences, competitive research requires a range of transferable skills to secure funding, optimise management of working teams and exploit research results. List_MAPS proposes an innovative approach to the training of ESRs in these transferable skills, combining socio-constructivist learning theory with Open Educational Resources to design and provide blended learning courses. This will secure world-class training for creative, entrepreneurial and innovative ESRs.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH.2011.2.3.1-2 | Award Amount: 16.04M | Year: 2011

Antibiotics are essential therapeutics in the treatment of bacterial infections. However, the indiscriminate use of antibiotics has led to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria that pose a major threat to human health as options for treating infections by these bacteria have become limited. The evolution, emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance genes are still only poorly understood and expanding our knowledge on these aspects will provide novel leads to combat the emergence of antibiotic resistance. The EvoTAR consortium gathers a multi-disciplinary group of leading European researchers in the fields of antibiotic resistance, microbial genomics and mathematical modelling. In addition, three research-intensive SMEs participate in EvoTAR, two of which are involved in the development of novel approaches to minimize the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance. The purpose of EvoTAR is to increase the understanding of the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens. EvoTAR will characterise the human reservoir of antibiotic resistance genes (the resistome) by investigating the dynamics and evolution of the interaction between resistant and non-resistant bacteria from the human microbiome and the interrelations of the human resistome with non-human reservoirs of resistance genes. Novel methods will be used to quantify resistance transfer under controlled conditions in gene exchange communities. Mathematical modelling will be applied to predict gene flow between different reservoirs and to predict future resistance trends. Novel in vitro and in vivo models will allow the study of the efficacy of novel therapeutics aimed at reducing selection and spread of antibiotic resistance. The EvoTAR project will generate novel insights into the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance genes and thereby create opportunities for the development of novel interventions to curb the rising tide of antibiotic resistance in human pathogens.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2013.1.2-10 | Award Amount: 7.96M | Year: 2014

Only about 10% of todays global aquaculture production use genetically improved stocks. In Europe, some breeding programmes consist of only the basic components of a breeding scheme. Hence, there is large potential to increase efficiency and profit by domestication and genetic improvement of farmed finfish. The main challenge of FISHBOOST is to realise this potential into economic and social acceptable breeding schemes, and advance these for each of the six target species. Acknowledging the different capacities of the species, the aim of FISHBOOST is: To improve the efficiency and profitability of European aquaculture by advancing selective breeding to the next level for each of the six main finfish species through collaborative research with industry. FISHBOOST considers the main components of breeding programmes for Atlantic salmon, common carp, European seabass, gilthead seabream, rainbow trout and turbot. Disease resistance and production efficiency are genetically improved through detailed phenotyping and advanced genomic technologies. The economic impact and producers perceptions will be assessed for the recommendations for each of the species. 14 well-recognised RTD participants in Europe on aquaculture breeding will collaborate in a five year comprehensive research project with 7 SMEs, 4 large industries and 1 NGO throughout Europe that are in the lead of the development of their species breeding programmes or are vectors between industry and RTD. A mixture of low and high-tech technological advances depending on current capacities of the species will be developed to move each species breeding program to the next level. This step-change advance will facilitate balanced and sustainable breeding programmes applying a wide set of traits, breeding tools and technologies. A dissemination program will deliver these results to SMEs and other end-users, thereby advancing existing and stimulating new aquaculture breeding programmes in Europe.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2012.2.2-03 | Award Amount: 14.15M | Year: 2013

The primary goal of PREVIEW is to identify the most efficient lifestyle pattern for the prevention of type-2 diabetes in a population of pre-diabetic overweight or obese individuals. The project comprises two distinct lines of evidence, both embracing European and overseas countries: 1) A multicentre, clinical randomized intervention trial with a total of 2,500 pre-diabetic participants, including children and adolescents, adults and elderly. The duration will be 3 years for the adults and elderly, and 2 years for the children and adolescents. 2) Large population studies using data from all age groups. Focus in both lines of evidence will be on diet (specifically protein and glycemic index) and intensity of physical activity, as well as their interaction with the lifestyle factors, habitual stress and sleeping pattern as well as behavioural, environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic variables. PREVIEW will significantly increase our knowledge on how specific lifestyle factors can help preventing type-2 diabetes. Type-2 diabetes accounts for about 90% of all cases of diabetes, primarily caused by the worldwide obesity epidemic. Diabetes is a costly disease and according to WHO, the direct health care costs of diabetes range from 2.5% to 15% of annual national health care budgets. This worrying trend calls for action and a need for a variety of innovative approaches. PREVIEW aims to be such an innovative attempt including all necessary disciplines and stakeholders, who can contribute to developing new ways for the prevention of this wide-spread life-style related disease. The strategic impact of PREVIEW concerns the massive problems associated with the global diabesity epidemic (obesity and type-2 diabetes) and therefore includes partners from Europe (East, West, North and South) and Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. PREVIEW will thereby contribute to improving health over the life-span of the population in Europe as well as worldwide. Overall the public health and socio-economic impact of PREVIEW is expected to be very significant.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2007-3-2-01 | Award Amount: 4.00M | Year: 2008

The aim of the proposed DISCO project is to develop more efficient and therefore more cost-effective cellulosic and hemicellulosic enzyme tools for the enhanced hydrolysis of pre-treated lignocellulosic biomass in simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) conditions for bioethanol production. The focus will be on enzymes having increased catalytic activity on various types of relevant European lignocellulosic biomass. In addition enzymes with lower affinity for lignin shall also be developed. Such enzymes would increase the effective amount of cellulases/ hemicellulases for cellulose hydrolysis. Furthermore the recycling of these enzymes would be applicable. The approach in this proposal is to discover the desired activities by combining classical and modern screening technologies. The enzymes will be produced in suitable host systems for industrial enzyme production. The project also focuses on elucidation of enzymatic hydrolysis mechanisms, about which there is a paucity of knowledge. The project will determine the limiting structural factors in these mechanisms by characterisation of the substrate during the course of the hydrolysis and the remaining recalcitrant residue. Synergy between different cellulase and hemicellulases components will also be addresses on the chosen lignocellulosic substrates. Furthermore, the project seeks to demonstrate the proof of concept with the cellulolytic enzymes in a pilot scale using the most relevant European feedstock pretreated wheat straw and related high-volume co-products.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2009.2.1.3.1;ENV.2009.1.1.3.1 | Award Amount: 8.93M | Year: 2010

The GHG-Europe project aims to improve our understanding and capacity for predicting the European terrestrial carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) budget by applying a systematic, comprehensive and integrative approach. GHG-Europe quantifies the annual to decadal variability of the carbon and GHG budgets of terrestrial ecosystems in EU27 plus Switzerland and in six data-rich European regions via data-model integration, diagnostic and predictive modelling. Models are calibrated by multi-site observations. Research includes CO2, CH4 and N2O in forests, croplands, grasslands, shrublands, peatlands and soils. Via an integrated approach, GHG Europe scales up consistently from local to regional and continental scale via scale dependent error propagation and systematic quantification of uncertainties, model validation at different scales and top-down verification by atmospheric inversion models. At regional and European scale lateral C transport by land use, trade and rivers are included. Variability in C and GHG budgets is attributed to natural (climate) and anthropogenic drivers (N deposition, land use, past and present management) by synthesis of past and emerging experiments, targeted observations in hot spots and hot moments and model sensitivity analyses. For this purpose, observations are extended to under-sampled regions and ecosystems with likely high importance for the European C budget: forests and land use change in Eastern Europe and Mediterranen shrublands. The future vulnerability of carbon pools and risks of positive feedbacks in the climate-carbon system are assessed by scenario analyses with biophysical models and by integrating feedbacks with socio-economic changes and EU climate and land use policies. GHG-Europe uses a bidirectional interaction with stakeholders to provide regular and timely scientific advice targeted to the emerging needs of the UNFCCC process and for implementing post-2012 climate commitments in Europe.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: PEOPLE-2007-1-1-ITN | Award Amount: 3.04M | Year: 2008

The multi-partner initial training network entitled Health-Promoting Cross-talk between Intestinal Microbiota and Humans (CROSS-TALK) aims at: Preparing qualified young professionals/researchers and future scientific leaders in the field of an emerging supra-discipline, the human microbiome metagenomics (which calls for new researcher curricula and fosters a dynamic scientific community) through a personal and adapted training program, Answering key questions on the role of the host-gut microbiota cross-talk in the development and maintenance of a healthy gut. Developing new concepts and trans-discipline training based on, the integrated scientific programme, laboratory exchanges and dedicated education proposed in CROSS-TALK In order to reach these objectives, CROSS-TALK establishes a collaborative research and training network of 10 network participants and 3 associated partners. This network gathers expertises in complementary disciplines (i.e. microbiology, immunology, cell biology [in-vitro] and molecular biology, in-vivo biology [animal models, humans], biochemistry, proteomics, transcriptomics) and participants from both the academic and private sectors with an excellent track record of collaborative research. The network also offers a complete range of theoretical, practical and complementary training as well as scientific workshops. The excellent scientific network of CROSS-TALK will work together with the young researchers to develop and implement effective training plans tailored to each individuals requirements. Regular meetings, active networking, connections with other scientific projects in the field and with commercial participants will ensure the success of this project and give the recruited researchers an excellent opportunity to reach their career objectives.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2010.2.3-02 | Award Amount: 12.29M | Year: 2011

The present proposal sees the development of business and value creation models as central to the development of personalised nutrition and thus it is intended to engage in a series of interviews with key stakeholders, which will generate a number of scenarios to be considered by these stakeholders. Parallel to that we will run some focus groups with consumers and develop a tool to ascertain consumer attitudes to personalised nutrition in 8 EU countries (1,000 per country) representing a breadth of gastronomic traditions. Within these 8 countries, we will recruit 1,280 subjects and offer 3 levels of personalised nutrition: 1 Personalised dietary advice alone; 2: personalised dietary advice based on biochemical phenotypic data; 3: the latter to include genomic data. These will be compared with a control group, which will be offered non-personalised dietary advice. All of the data on dietary intake and all of the advice will be Internet delivered and will last 6 months. Within each of the 3 levels of personalised nutrition groups, half will receive their feedback at months 0, 3 and 6 while the other half will have continuous feedback on demand with intensive coaching. The overall outcome measurement will be changes in a healthy eating index. The data gathered in this study will feed into the development of algorithms to provide automated feedback for future services delivering personalised advice on food choice. We will bring together an international group of experts to develop best practice in the application of all aspects of nutrigenomic research to personalised nutrition. We will also scope out existing and future technologies, particularly those involving biofeedback, which will help the development of personalised nutrition. Finally we develop position papers on the ethical and legal aspects of personalised nutrition. Permeating all of this work will be a wide-ranging communications programme aimed at all stakeholders of relevance to personalised nutrition.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-10a-2014 | Award Amount: 8.10M | Year: 2015

European aquaculture production provides direct employment to 80,000 people and a 3-billion annual turnover. Parasites cause severe disease outbreaks and high economic losses in finfish aquaculture. The overarching goal of ParaFishControl is to increase the sustainability and competitiveness of European Aquaculture by improving understanding of fish-parasite interactions and by developing innovative solutions and tools for the prevention, control and mitigation of the major parasites affecting Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, common carp, European sea bass, gilthead sea bream and turbot. To achieve these objectives, ParaFishControl brings together a multidisciplinary consortium comprising 30 partners possessing world-leading, complementary, cross-cutting expertise and drawn from public and private research organisations, and the aquaculture industry. The consortium has access to excellent research facilities, diverse biological resources including host-parasite models, and state-of-the-art vaccinology, genomic, proteomic and transcriptomic technologies. The project will: 1) generate new scientific knowledge on key fish parasites, including genomics, life-cycle, invasion strategy and host-parasite interaction data, with special emphasis on host immunity, pathogen virulence and immunomodulation, providing a scientific basis for improved prophylaxis; 2) determine the transfer of parasites between farmed and wild host populations; 3) develop a wide range of novel prophylactic measures, including vaccines and functional feeds; 4) provide a range of advanced or alternative treatments for parasitic diseases; 5) develop cost-effective, specific and sensitive diagnostic tools for key parasitic diseases; 6) assess the risk factors involved in the emergence, transmission and pathogenesis of parasitic diseases; 7) map the zoonotic risks due to fish helminths and; 8) provide a catalogue of good husbandry practices to obtain safe and high-quality fish products.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-19-2014 | Award Amount: 5.30M | Year: 2015

Strengthening food and nutrition security (FNS) in the EU requires a move towards a diet that supports sustainable food consumption and production. To gauge the policy reforms needed for this major societal challenge, the SUSFANS-consortium will identify how food production and nutritional health in the EU can be aligned. The multidisciplinary research agenda of SUSFANS will build the conceptual framework, the evidence base and analytical tools for underpinning EU-wide food policies with respect to their impact on consumer diet and their implications for nutrition and public health, the environment, the competitiveness of the EU agri-food sectors, and global FNS. Based on a conceptual model of the food chain and its stakeholders, SUSFANS will develop suitable metrics and identify major drivers for sustainable FNS, integrate data and modelling, and develop foresight for European sustainable FNS. Central asset is a coherent toolbox which integrates two complementary strands of state-of-the-art quantitative analysis: (i) micro-level modelling of nutrient intakes, habitual dietary patterns and preferences of individual consumers, and (ii) macro-level modelling of food demand and supply in the context of economic, environmental and demographic changes on various time-scales and for multiple sub-regions. The tools will bridge the current gap between policy analysis on the EU agri-food sector and the nutrition-health sector. Case studies and scenarios based on stakeholder input from consumers, food industry, farmers/fishermen, government and the scientific community, are instrumental in achieving this goal. The project will provide a comprehensive set of tools for assessing sustainable FNS in Europe, centred around the implications of the current diet for the sustainability of production and consumption in the EU, and the options for the EU agri-food sector (including fisheries and aquaculture) to improve future diets in the near future (up to 5 years) and in the long run (one or more decades ahead).


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH-2009-3.3-3 | Award Amount: 15.41M | Year: 2010

CHANCES aims at combining and integrating on-going cohort studies in order to produce evidence on ageing-related health characteristics and determinants in Europe, and their socio-economic implications. 15 cohorts participate, covering populations from 18 EU Member States, 4 associate countries, and 3 additional countries. The combination of these different studies would lead to an integrated approach to the study of health in the elderly. CHANCES will address 5 main types of health related characteristics: (i) incidence of chronic conditions, disabilities and mortality; (ii) prevalence of chronic conditions and disabilities; (iii) health-related determinants of chronic conditions and disabilities; (iv) ageing-related characteristics as determinants of chronic condition, disabilities and mortality; and (v) social and economic implications of chronic conditions, disabilities and mortality in the elderly. Analyses will be conducted in subjects aged 50-59, 60-69 and 70\ years. Health-related determinants comprise (i) socio-economic factors (e.g., education, income), (ii) environmental factors (e.g., occupational exposures), (iii) lifestyle factors (e.g., tobacco smoking, alcohol drinking), and (iv) nutritional factors (e.g., BMI, dietary patterns), in addition to biomakers and genetic factors. 4 major groups of chronic conditions and disabilities will be studied: (i) cancer; (ii) diabetes and cardiovascular diseases; (iii) fractures and osteoporosis; (iv) cognitive function and Alzheimer disease. Information on other conditions and disabilities (e.g., eye diseases, chronic respiratory conditions) will be also collected if available. Mortality will be assessed in terms of age-specific rates a well as DALYs. A health module will be developed, to be applied to other population surveys. Additionally, the study will generate a unique resource for additional studies on health and its determinants in the elderly. Provisions will be made to allow for this work to be extended.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.3.1-01 | Award Amount: 11.66M | Year: 2012

The goal of WATBIO is to use the power of next generation sequencing to develop an accelerated route for producing new germplasm with enhanced drought tolerance whilst maintaining biomass productivity and quality in water scarce, marginal environments unsuitable for food crops. This will be achieved for three non-food crops (Populus, Miscanthus and Arundo), suitable for growth on water scarce, marginal lands, through a 5-year translational research project. Populus and Miscanthus germplasm with increased drought tolerance will be produced within WATBIO whilst for Arundo its genetic diversity will be assessed and breeding tools developed. Twenty-two multidisciplinary partners (14 academics, and 7 SMEs) spanning the whole value chain for crop production will collectively achieve this innovation by 1) identifying key molecular, cellular and physiological traits for the maintenance of biomass production, lignocellulosic quality and water use efficiency in water-scarce environments; 2) linking these traits through modelling to underlying key genes, proteins and metabolite networks; 3) utilising a wide range of germplasm for screening in phenotyping platforms and field measurements at multiple sites to test importance of genotype x environment interactions in determining traits; 4) using sequence based gene expression data, identify 40 genes related to drought tolerance for testing proof of concept using GM approach; and 5) using sequence-based data for genome wide association and genetical genomic approaches, link physiology to traits of high heritability and to underlying genes. WATBIO will transfer knowledge of commercial significance using its industrial partners and stakeholders enabling the deployment of biotechnology to boost European competitiveness, without the necessity of GM. Through workshops, seminars and exchanges, WATBIO will train the next generation of multi-disciplinary professionals in the area of biomass crop production on marginal lands.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2007-3-2-07 | Award Amount: 8.23M | Year: 2009

The PolyModE project convenes an international, interdisciplinary, and intersectorial consortium to identify, characterise, and optimise novel polysaccharide modifying enzymes, and to develop robust fermentation strategies for their large-scale production, to exploit the potential of biopolymers for food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and technical applications. We have selected the six complex carbohydrates with the highest current market share or expected future market potential, namely alginate, carrageenan, chitosan, glycosaminoglycan, pectin, and xanthan gum. For each of these, the industrial partners have identified those enzymes which will answer to the most pressing needs or offer the most promising potential for improved production of polysaccharides with novel physico-chemical properties and biological functionalities. Primary targets will be alginate epimerases, carrageenan sulfatases, chitosan de-acetylases, glycosaminoglycan sulfatases, pectin de-acetylases, and xanthan gum de-acetylases. These enzymes together with secondary target enzymes, e.g. sequence specific lyases and hydrolases, will allow the generation and analysis of polymers and oligomers with novel, non-random patterns of modification. Two parallel approaches will be followed for each type of polysaccharide modifying enzyme, namely a knowledge-based genomic approach and a broad, un-biased metagenomic approach, e.g. using soil or sludge samples with a history of contact with the polysaccharide in question. A pipeline of three levels of fermentation systems will be established, ranging from lab-scale innovative expression systems with features shaped according to the specific characteristics of our target enzymes, through medium-scale, novel and unusual fermentation systems provided by a number of SME with highly specialised knowledge and expertise in developing and using such systems, to the established large-scale fermentation systems and facilities of market leaders in White Biotechnology.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-04-2014 | Award Amount: 6.88M | Year: 2015

Knowledge regarding the complex interplay between agricultural land use and management and soil quality and function is fragmented and incomplete, in particular with regard to underlying principles and regulating mechanisms. The main aim of iSQAPER is to develop an interactive soil quality assessment tool (SQAPP) for agricultural land users that integrates newly derived process understanding and accounts for the impact of agricultural land use and management on soil properties and functions, and related ecosystem services. For this purpose, >30 long-term experimental field trials in the EU and China will be analysed to derive regulating principles for integration in SQAPP. SQAPP will be developed using a multi-actor approach aiming at facilitating social innovation and providing options to land users for cost-effective agricultural management activities to enhance soil quality and crop productivity. SQAPP will be tested extensively in 14 dedicated Case Study Sites in the EU and China covering a wide spectrum of farming systems and pedo-climatic zones, and rolled-out across the continents thereafter. Within the Case Study sites a range of alternative agricultural practices will be selected, implemented and evaluated with regard to effects on improving soil quality and crop productivity. Proven practices will be evaluated for their potential applicability at EU and China levels, and to assess the related soil environmental footprint under current and future agricultural trends and various agricultural policy scenarios. How the soil quality tool can be utilized for different policy purposes, e.g. in cross compliance and agro-environmental measures, will also be investigated and demonstrated. A comprehensive dissemination and communication strategy, including a web-based information portal, will ensure that project results are available to a variety of stakeholders at the right time and in appropriate formats to enhance soil quality and productivity in the EU and China.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: BIOTEC-1-2014 | Award Amount: 8.06M | Year: 2015

Mycoplasmas are the smallest cell wall less, free-living microorganisms. The lack of a cell wall makes them resistant to many of the common antibiotics. Every year, infections caused by Mycoplasmas in poultry, cows, and pigs, result in multimillion euros losses in USA and Europe. Currently, there are vaccines against M hyopneumoniae in pigs and M gallisepticum and M synoviae in poultry. However, there is no vaccination against many Mycoplasma species infecting pets, humans and farm animals (ie M bovis cow infection). Mycoplasma species in many cases are difficult to grown in axenic culture and those that grow need a complex media with animal serum. In large scale production of Mycoplasma species for vaccination aside from the high cost of animal serum, more important is the high irreproducibility in the production process and the possible contamination with animal viruses. All this together highlights what European industry needs:i) a defined cheap reproducible medium that is animal serum free and ii) an universal Mycoplasma chassis that could be used in a pipeline to vaccinate against Mycoplasma species, as well as any pathogen. M pneumoniae is an ideal starting point for designing such a vaccine chassis. It has a small genome (860 kb) and it is probably the organism with the most comprehensive systems biology data acquired so far. By genome comparison, metabolic modeling and rationally engineering its genome, we will create a vaccine chassis that will be introduced into an industrial pipeline. The process will be guided by the second world largest industry on animal vaccination (MSD), as well as a SME specialized on peptide display and screening. This will ensure the exploitation and commercialization of our work contributing to maintain Europe privileged position in this field. Our ultimate goal is to meet the needs of the livestock industry,taking care of ethical issues, foreseeable risks, and prepare effective dissemination and training material for the public.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2010.2.2-02 | Award Amount: 11.95M | Year: 2011

NU-AGE is a large multidisciplinary consortium (30 partners, from 16 EU countries) involving nutritionists, biogerontologists, immunologists and molecular biologists from the most prestigious institutions in Europe, 5 large food industries, 8 traditional food companies and 1 biotech SME, SPES GEIE and FooDrinkEurope, covering the SME Food Industrial Associations of 13 European countries and the European Confederation the food and drink industry. NU-AGE aims are: 1. to counteract the physical/cognitive decline occurring in the elderly as a consequence of the progressive alteration of different organs/systems (immune and cardiovascular systems, bone, brain, muscle and intestine) by one year elderly-tailored whole diet intervention on 1250 healthy elderly men and women aged 65-79 years (half diet, half control) from 5 different EU regions; 2. to assess the effect of the newly designed food pyramid specific for 65\ EU citizens on the different organs/systems using a large set of biomarkers related to nutrition and ageing, with particular attention to the low grade, chronic, systemic inflammatory status named inflammageing, a major risk factor for common age-related diseases; 3. to perform in a subgroup of 120 subjects in depth studies and high throughput omics to identify cellular/molecular targets/mechanisms responsible for whole diet effect; 4. to perform genetic and epigenetic studies to assess the role of individual variability on the response to diet; 5. to adopt an integrative comprehensive approach (systems biology) to analyze the whole set of data. The results of dietary intervention will be used to develop elderly-tailored prototypes of functional foods and to improve traditional foods. The research activity will be accompanied and followed by a strong activity of dissemination and industrial exploitation to support EU strategies on nutritional recommendations, thus contributing to the implementation of legislation related to nutritional and health claims for elderly in Europe.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2012-ITN | Award Amount: 3.59M | Year: 2012

The mission of EpiTRAITS is to train young researchers in epigenetic gene regulation and flowering in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the crop plants maize (Zea mays) and barley (Hordeum vulgare). Epigenetic gene regulation confers stability of gene expression patterns through cell divisions while allowing changes in expression in response to environmental or developmental cues. Although changes in epigenetic gene regulation are a major cause for trait variation, no rational strategies have been developed that utilize this knowledge for crop breeding purposes. EpiTRAITS will focus on one of the key plant traits, flowering, which is controlled by various epigenetic mechanisms. The scientific program aims to bridge the gap between fundamental and applied research by translating results from epigenetic research in model organisms to improved technologies for crop breeding and molecular diagnostic tools.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2007-3-2-07;KBBE-2007-3-2-08 | Award Amount: 7.53M | Year: 2009

The exponential increase in microbial genome and metagenome sequencing throughput has widened the gap between sequence and functional understanding. A clear picture of metabolic processes across the spectrum of bacterial species is essential to enable the exploitation of microbial genomics for the purposes of environmental biotechnology. The Microme project endeavors to extend the scope of microbial genome annotation from functional assignment at the gene level to the systematic generation of pathway assemblies and genome-scale metabolic models. A few key ideas and design principles will enable the Microme reconstruction pipeline to achieve this ambitious goal.A clear definition of a metabolic pathway as a collection of reaction sets, each of which convert the same defined inputs into the same outputs, will allow species-specific pathway variants to be identified, assembled into networks, compared across species, and used for downstream computations. A unique pathways projection, curation and assembly cycle, feeding directly into the flow of newly sequenced genomes, will allow a qualitative increase in the speed and reliability of the pathway generation process. Pathways and models produced the pipeline will be accessible to the scientific community as an integrated resource via the Microme portal. Finally, taking advantage of the availability of pathway assemblies from a large sample of genomes, methods for comparative and phylogenetic analyses and novel metabolic engineering strategies for environmental biotechnology goals will be developed, applied to proof-of-concept studies, and integrated to the resource as an analytical tool layer. Microme will be supported by a robust bioinformatics infrastructure, developed by integrating a set of established European databases and tools, integrated with reference protein annotation, metabolites and reactions databases, and interfaced with the annotation pipelines of the two main European sequencing centers.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2011.2.2-02 | Award Amount: 7.84M | Year: 2012

NutriTech will build on the foundations of traditional human nutrition research using cutting-edge analytical technologies and methods to comprehensively evaluate the diet-health relationship and critically assess their usefulness for the future of nutrition research and human well-being. Technologies include genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, laser scanning cytometry, NMR based lipoprotein profiling and advanced imaging by MRI/MRS. All methods will be applied in an integrated manner to quantify the effect of diet on phenotypic flexibility, based on metabolic flexibility (the capacity for the organism to adapt fuel oxidation to fuel availability). However, NutriTech will move beyond the state-of-the-art by applying these integrated methods to assess the underlying and related cell biological and genetic mechanisms and multiple physiological processes of adaptation when homeostasis is challenged. Methods will in the first instance be evaluated within a human intervention study, and the resulting optimal methods will be validated in a number of existing cohorts against established endpoints. NutriTech will disseminate the harmonised and integrated technologies on a global scale by a large academic network including 6 non-EU partners and by providing an integrated and standardised data storage and evaluation platform. The impact of NutriTech will be multifold and exploitation is crucial as major breakthroughs from our technology and research are expected. This will be achieved by collaboration with a consortium of 8 major food industries and by exploitation of specific technologies by our 6 SME partners. Overall, NutriTech will lay the foundations for successful integration of emerging technologies intro nutrition research.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.2.3-04 | Award Amount: 4.45M | Year: 2013

Optilfel has as its ultimate goal to contribute to elders health by combating denutrition due to both physical capacities diminution and appetite loss. The concept of Optifel is to translate the knowledge on nutritional needs, food preferences and physical capacities into accurate specifications for food products and packaging. Food products (including packaging and food serving methods) will then be elaborated using both traditional and alternative technologies to meet these specifications and their acceptance tested by elderly. The population targeted by the project is elderly persons cooking at home or making use of meal-on-wheels services for whom the project will conceive food products adapted to their taste, habits, needs and constraints. The range of solutions envisaged span from taste and texture to nutritional quality, and microbial safety through packaging and delivery mode. Optifel will test the approach on fruit and vegetable products, which traditionally constitute a high part of elderly diet, offer great variety, and are amenable to texture manipulation. Optifel aims to - collect, refine and formalise user needs and expectations in terms of sensory and nutritional quality, texture, packagings cognitive and biomechanical ergonomics, and preparation convenience. - translate elders and caregivers needs and expectations into food products and packaging functional specifications to be delivered under the form of conceptual food models. - design and develop food processing and packaging to produce prototypes fulfilling the specifications. - assess the actual properties of the prototypes after food preparation and identify criticalpoints during final preparation and serving. - test the prototype products in meals-on-wheels and in nursing homes to evaluate their acceptance by elderly persons and care-givers.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: Ocean.2010-2 | Award Amount: 16.58M | Year: 2011

Marine life makes a substantial contribution to the economy and society of Europe. VECTORS will elucidate the drivers, pressures and vectors that cause change in marine life, the mechanisms by which they do so, the impacts that they have on ecosystem structures and functioning, and on the economics of associated marine sectors and society. VECTORS will particularly focus on causes and consequences of invasive alien species, outbreak forming species, and changes in fish distribution and productivity. New and existing knowledge and insight will be synthesised and integrated to project changes in marine life, ecosystems and economies under future scenarios for adaptation and mitigation in the light of new technologies, fishing strategies and policy needs. VECTORS will evaluate current forms and mechanisms of marine governance in relation to the vectors of change. Based on its findings, VECTORS will provide solutions and tools for relevant stakeholders and policymakers, to be available for use during the lifetime of the project. The project will address a complex array of interests comprising areas of concern for marine life, biodiversity, sectoral interests, regional seas, and academic disciplines as well as the interests of stakeholders. VECTORS will ensure that the links and interactions between all these areas of interest are explored, explained, modelled and communicated effectively to the relevant stakeholders. The VECTORS consortium is extremely experienced and genuinely multidisciplinary. It includes a mixture of natural scientists with knowledge of socio-economic aspects, and social scientists (environmental economists, policy and governance analysts and environmental law specialists) with interests in natural system functioning. VECTORS is therefore fully equipped to deliver the integrated interdisciplinary research required to achieve its objectives with maximal impact in the arenas of science, policy, management and society.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2010.4.2.3-3 | Award Amount: 1.88M | Year: 2011

The policy issue central to this project is food as many of todays sustainability problems (e.g. water shortage, GHG emissions, pollution of soil and water, decrease of biodiversity, urban waste) are related to the prevailing pattern of food production and consumption (including processing and distribution). Hence, developing more sustainable food production and consumption patterns will have a significant impact on sustainable development in general. This project aims to develop and experiment with new integrative modalities of linking research to policy-making in the field of sustainable food consumption and production, thereby contributing to the establishment of new policy-relevant communities of researchers, policy makers & CSOs and enhancing the use of research insights in policies to promote sustainable food systems. Three different Communities of Practice will be developed, focusing on different dimensions of a newly emerging integrated territorial food geography: a) short food supply chains, b) sustainable public food procurement, and c) urban food strategies. Like the FOODLINKS consortium, each CoP will consist of researchers, policymakers and CSO representatives. In this project we will monitor and evaluate the knowledge brokerage activities in the CoPs, in order to propose new ways of linking research and policymaking in the food domain as well as in other public domains.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2010-1.1.31 | Award Amount: 8.95M | Year: 2011

Nanoscale objects interact with living organisms in a fundamentally new manner, ensuring that a fruitful marriage of nanotechnology and biology will long outlast short term imperatives. Therefore, investment in an infrastructure to drive scientific knowledge of the highest quality will have both immediate benefits of supporting the safety assessment of legacy nanomaterials, as well as pointing towards future (safe) applications with the lasting benefits to society. There are immediate priorities, for few doubt that serious damage to confidence in nanotechnology, unless averted, could result in missed opportunities to benefit society for a generation, or more. QNano will materially affect the outcome, at this pivotal moment of nanotechnology implementation. The overall vision of QNano is the creation of a neutral scientific & technical space in which all stakeholder groups can engage, develop, and share scientific best practice in the field. Initially it will harness resources from across Europe and develop efficient, transparent and effective processes. Thereby it will enable provision of services to its Users, and the broader community, all in the context of a best-practice ethos. This will encourage evidence-based dialogue to prosper between all stakeholders. However, QNano will also pro-actively seek to drive, develop and promote the highest quality research and practices via its JRA, NA and TA functions, with a global perspective and mode of implementation. QNano will also look to the future, beyond the current issues, and promote the growth and development of the science of nanoscale interactions with living organisms. By working with new and emerging scientific research communities from medicine, biology, energy, materials and others, it will seek to forge new directions leading to new (safe, responsible, economically viable) technologies for the benefit of European society.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-SME-AG | Phase: SME-2011-2 | Award Amount: 2.89M | Year: 2012

The European whitefish catch and processing industry is dominated by SMEs, and it is currently facing several challenges. Worldwide many stocks have collapsed, and environmental organizations warn against consuming captured whitefish. Strict regulations with respect to documentation and traceability have been imposed on the European captured fish industry in the last few years, and fulfilling these generates significant additional cost. While some cod/haddock stocks, particularly in the north-east Atlantic, are still healthy and sustainable there is a problem for these species when they get to the market. This is due to competition from cheap farmed whitefish species, in particular pangasius and tilapia imported from Asia/Africa. The goal of the WHITEFISH project is to strengthen the competitiveness of the European cod/haddock industry by documenting the desirable characteristics of whitefish caught in the north-east Atlantic, in particular relating to sustainability (stock, environmental, economic and social). The specific objective of the project is to develop and validate an objective and transparent method to document the sustainability impact of captured fish products. The method will be based on Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), and it will calculate sustainability impact on production batch level as opposed to generic product type level which is current practice. This will enable differentiated calculation of environmental impact, so that products that look identical may be shown to have different properties, for instance related to food miles or CO2 emissions. The method will utilize existing recordings in the company traceability systems, so that food businesses may perform their own calculations of sustainability without needing to involve external experts. The method will be developed, piloted and tested in this project, SMEs and SME Associations will be trained in the use of it, and it will be published and distributed as a European good practice standard.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH-2009-2.1.2-1 | Award Amount: 13.84M | Year: 2010

Tuberculosis (TB) is a re-emerging global health threat caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). One third of the worlds population is infected with Mtb and new infections occur at a rate of one per second. Despite global research efforts, mechanisms underlying pathogenesis, virulence and persistence of Mtb infection remain poorly understood. Simple reductionist approaches are insufficient to understand its complex biology. The grand goal of the SysteMTb project is to establish a Systems Biology framework to understand key features of Mtb and its interactions with the host which, in turn, will provide new insights and a solid (model based) knowledge for the development of novel and cost-effective strategies to combat tuberculosis. To achieve this, SysteMTb will: i) generate and integrate quantitative data sets of Mtb (e.g. transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, structural genomics, lipidomics, glycomics) alone, or in the presence of host macrophages, ii) develop computer models at different appropriate levels of system complexity with emphasis on metabolism, regulatory networks and transcription regulation, and iii) identify new possible targets for therapeutic intervention based on computer modelling. The combination of these approaches will provide a rational framework to understand mycobacterial physiology during infection and to identify essential nodes that are optimal for effective therapeutic interventions.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP-SICA | Phase: ENV.2011.2.1.4-1 | Award Amount: 9.01M | Year: 2011

To realise the full potential of tropical forests in climate change mitigation (CCM) & the provision of other ecosystem services in the face of ongoing global change we must improve our understanding of the relationships between biodiversity (BD) and the socio-ecological processes through which we respond & adapt to change. ROBIN will provide information for policy & resource use options under scenarios of socio-economic & climate change to: quantify interactions between terrestrial BD, land use & CCM potential in tropical Latin America; develop scenarios for CCM options by evaluating their effectiveness, unintended effects on other ecosystem services (e.g. disease mitigation) and their socio-ecological consequences. We will achieve this by combining new techniques (including remote sensing) for BD assessments in complex multi-functional landscapes, data-based analyses, integrated modelling & participatory-driven approaches at local & regional scales. Case studies along a gradient of sites in Mesoamerica and Amazonia will be used to develop understanding of the relationships between BD & CCM options & feed policy development. These studies will improve understanding of the options favourable to stakeholders & barriers & drivers affecting adoption of resource management strategies. Key deliverables will be: improved understanding of the role of BD in climate change; participatory-driven strategies & tools for CCM; assessments of the risks & uncertainties associated with CCM options. The main impact of the work will be improved outcomes from CCM & BD protection measures by providing natural resource managers in Latin America with guidance on how BD & ecosystems can be used in CCM without creating new problems. We will provide improved indicators for BD relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity & the design & implementation of REDD\/\\ schemes, to ensure increased storage of carbon in forests & multi-functional landscapes & decreased rates of BD loss.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: ENV.2007.1.3.3.3. | Award Amount: 1.83M | Year: 2008

In recent years large parts of Europe suffered from extreme drought, a phenomenon that likely will become more frequent and more severe, as predicted by the climate models. This will lead to significant socio-economic and environmental impacts and associated damages. There is therefore an urgent need to develop a roadmap toward a European Drought Policy, in accordance with the EU-Water Framework Directive (WFD) and related EU Legislation and Actions. The aim is to mitigate and to adapt to droughts, and hence reduce the risks they pose in Europe. XEROCHORE SA compiles a roadmap that comprises of: 1) a state-of-the-art review and identification of the research gaps in the natural system, in impact assessment, in policy-making and in integrated water resources management, and 2) an assessment of the possible impacts of droughts and guidance on appropriate responses for stakeholders. An extended network of experts will gather inputs for the roadmap through focussed workshops, round table discussions, which integrate the various aspects, and a concluding conference. A Core Group will guide and facilitate the discussion and synthesis process, and eventually write the integrated roadmap. The project network consists of over 80 organizations including research institutes, universities, ministries, water management organizations, stakeholders, consultants, international organizations and programmes. It includes key members of the European Drought Centre and the WFD-CIS Working Group on Water Scarcity and Drought and representatives from overseas and neighbourhood countries, in particular around the Mediterranean Basin. The large number of organizations covering different aspects and geographic regions guarantee that all drought aspects will be covered. The drought network will be embedded in the already-existing European Drought Centre to reach the wider scientific and to provide research advice and policy support to the EC beyond the lifetime of this action.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: ENV.2011.1.1.2-1 | Award Amount: 10.93M | Year: 2011

CLAIRE investigates the ways in which climate change alters the threat of air pollution on European land ecosystems including soils. Based on field observations, experimental data and models, it establishes new flux, concentration and dose-response relationships, as a basis to inform future European policies. Starting with biosphere-atmosphere exchange measurements, CLAIRE quantifies how global warming and altered precipitation will affect emissions of key European primary pollutants (NOx, NH3, VOCs), including interactions with increasing aerosol and hemispheric O3 background concentrations, modifying atmospheric transport and deposition. An ensemble of chemistry transport models will be applied to assess uncertainty in response to harmonized scenarios for climate, emissions and land-use, while high resolution studies will investigate how climate change alters local patterns of pollutant exposure and threshold exceedance. A network of European experiments for contrasting ecosystems and climates, combined with meta-analysis of unpublished datasets, will quantify how climate change alters ecosystem vulnerability to tropospheric O3 and N deposition, including interaction with increased CO2. Combined with special topics on interactions with N form (wet/dry, NHx/NOy), aerosol-exacerbated drought stress and BVOC self-protection of O3 effects, novel threshold and dose-response approaches will be developed. These will be combined with regional atmospheric and biogeochemical models to estimate interactions and feedbacks on plant/soil carbon stocks, greenhouse gas balance and plant species change. The new risk assessment chain to be developed will be applied at the European scale, quantifying how projected climate change will alter damage estimates. Combined with economic valuation of ecosystem services, improved integrated assessment modelling will allow a cost-benefit analysis to inform future mitigation and adaptation strategies on air pollution and climate change.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP-SICA | Phase: KBBE-2009-2-5-01 | Award Amount: 7.58M | Year: 2010

VEG-i-TRADE provides platforms to identify impacts of anticipated climate change and globalisation on food safety, microbiological and chemical hazards, of fresh produce and derived food products. Control measures of managerial and technological nature will be developed in the supply chain of crop production, post-harvest processing and logistics to minimize food safety risks. The assessment of the performance of horticultural safety management systems by a novel diagnostic instrument at EU level exemplified by several countries in Europe and tailored on a global level including major EU trade partners from various climate zones will lead to recommendations on European and global level on quality assurance and the setting of science-based performance objectives. VEG-i-TRADE will pro-actively invest in problem solving technologies for safe produce investigating aspects of water quality and water treatment, horticultural production practices, disinfection treatment and packaging technologies. These control measures will be exploited in collaboration with SMEs and industrial partners. Baseline studies on the hazards, intervention technologies and best practices in the fresh produce chain will provide input for both microbial and chemical risk assessment to elaborate support to risk-based sampling plans, evaluate the risks of newly identified threats as affected by the global trade system and anticipated climate change. The project output will craft a discussion forum for stakeholders in the global food chain reflecting on issues of acceptable risk, sustainability of fresh produce production and long term strategy of international food trade, while making no compromise in food safety for European consumers and in respectation of food sovereignty. Risk communication to increase awareness of trade partners production systems and the uneven consumer behaviour will provide key conditions for prioritisation of risk management strategies.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN | Award Amount: 4.06M | Year: 2014

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the most significant EU legislation concerning surface water management. Programs of Measures are required to ensure water bodies achieve a good ecological status. It is important to predict the impact of interventions on water quality. Man-made and natural processes control surface water quality, these are highly complex with a range of sources, transport and transformation processes. Cost estimates by EU governments indicate that billions of euros will be spent over several decades to implement WFD. There is an increasing level of concern on the implementation cost (financial and carbon). Integrated water quality models designed to predict the quality of water across the linked urban and rural scales in a catchment is seen as a tool to optimise this cost. Integrated Catchment Modelling (ICM) is based on linking numerous empirically calibrated sub-models of water quality processes. Catchment scale WQ predictions are then used to justify investment. Current water quality sub-models contain significant uncertainty. Methods have been developed to quantify uncertainty at a level however little work has been carried out to investigate WQ uncertainty propagation between sub-models. QUICS will develop a generalised catchment wide approach to uncertainty assessment that can then be used in WFD implementation studies. It will address uncertainty propagation at the spatial and temporal scales found in catchments and develop tools to reduce uncertainty by optimising sampling and monitoring and the objective selection of model structure. This will reduce uncertainty in WQ predictions and result in better informed investment decisions and so have a significant impact on WFD implementation. QUICS contains leading water quality scientists, uncertainty experts and private sector water management practitioners and modellers. It will train researchers capable of developing and implementing uncertainty management tools into ICM studies.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2009.1.1.6.1 | Award Amount: 4.05M | Year: 2010

Assessment of climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation requires a combination of generic and context-specific knowledge. Currently, the availability of such knowledge in Europe is fragmented and incomplete. MEDIATION addresses this challenge through six activities: (i) analysis of the decision-making context; (ii) inventory, review and improvement of methods and metrics for impacts and vulnerability analysis; (iii) likewise for costing of impacts and adaptation options; (iv) development of an overarching integrated methodology; (v) development of a flexible, interactive common platform for knowledge sharing; and (vi) dissemination of this knowledge and training. The components of the project will be connected in an iterative fashion, using case studies which combine selected regional, sectoral and cross-sectoral characteristics and policy questions. The consortium combines eleven top European scientific institutions with a high reputation and long experience in impacts, vulnerability and adaptation research and assessment. They represent different regions in Europe with contrasting vulnerabilities, cover the wide array of disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge required to assess sectoral and cross-sectoral vulnerabilities, already participate in numerous related European and national research programmes, and have extensive expertise in science-policy interactions. The project will establish an Advisory Group of key international scientific experts and climate change policy makers to strengthen the scientific basis of the project as well as the policy relevance. In addition to scientific innovation, MEDIATION aims at supporting national and international policy development through targeted interactions, including the UNFCCC process (notably the Nairobi Work Programme), and the EU White Paper process, the latter by systematically addressing the components of the 3rd pillar of the EU Green Paper related to knowledge development and sharing.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: SiS-2009-1.2.1.1;SiS-2009-1.3.2.1 | Award Amount: 3.09M | Year: 2010

PERARES strengthens public engagement in research (PER) by developing multi-annual action plans, involving researchers and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the formulation of research agendas and the research process. It uses debates on science to actively articulate research requests of civil society. These are forwarded to research institutes, and results are used in a next phase of the debate. Thus, these debates move upstream into agenda setting. For this, partners link existing debate formats with the science shop network already linking civil society and research institutes - and start a transnational web portal for debates. This is piloted on nanotechnology, then every few months a new debate starts. These are connected to the European reflection on the grand societal challenges for the future of the ERA. To be able to answer to research requests, it is necessary to enlarge and strengthen the network of research bodies doing research for/with CSOs. Thus, nine new science shop like facilities throughout Europe are started, mentored by experienced partners. Science shop-like work is advanced by adding studies on good practices to the available knowledge base and organising workshops. Guidelines to evaluate the impact of engagement activities are developed and tested. The partners pilot and assess alternative forms of agenda-setting dialogue between researchers and CSOs, e.g. long-term periodic meetings, and direct co-operations in two important social sciences fields: Roma/Travellers issues and domestic violence issues. The partners also investigate the potential role of higher education institutes and funding councils in supporting co-operation with CSOs. PERARES discusses its activities with the wider community through two large conferences and ongoing dissemination. Thus, through increased, better structured co-operation, more researchers and CSOs engage in incorporating needs, concerns and knowledge of civil society in research agendas.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: KBBE.2011.2.5-03 | Award Amount: 1.08M | Year: 2011

There is an increasing recognition that innovation is a task for all actors in the food chain, since innovation should add value to the food chain as a whole and lead to sustainable novel applications. RECAPT aims at supporting a process that leads to closer collaborative management of innovations along the food supply chain. The overall objective of this action is to build a platform that strengthens collaboration between food scientists, food industry and the retailing and catering sectors, such that research findings can be effectively integrated into the development of innovative and sustainable products that meet consumer acceptance, thereby contributing to global competitiveness of the European food sector. More specifically, RECAPT has the following strategic objectives: 1. To promote information exchange and facilitate trust building in order to enhance innovation-oriented cooperation among the actors in the food supply chain. 2. To analyze all parameters and provide all necessary inputs for the realization and viability of those collaborations. In order to promote information exchange, facilitate trust building and enhance cooperation among actors in the food chain, a Collaborative Food Innovation Forum (CFIF) for effective dialog and collaboration between the food chain actors will be created. The CFIF will be a unique meeting place that will bring together actors from science, food manufacturing, retailing, catering and consumer organisations. Based on input from the different work packages, the CFIF will discuss issues related to promising novel technologies, consumer acceptance of new products based on novel technologies, retailer and caterer adoption of new products as well as innovation management processes in the food chain based on input from the RECAPT partners. In this way, a comprehensive view of the parameters and inputs necessary for increasing collaborative innovation activities in the European food sector will be developed.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 2.65M | Year: 2015

Nanotechnology has been identified as a key enabling technology of economic growth and the value of nanomaterials in the global market is forecast to grow to 2 trillion by 2015. In order to be a market leader in this area, it is imperative that Europe invest in research where the gap between knowledge creation and successful commercialisation is bridged, and in training the next generation of highly skilled researchers in nanotechnology. This ETN will increase innovation capacity and strengthen doctoral training in nanotechnology on a European level. The ETN will push research into applications at the cutting-edge of nanotechnology by uniting leading experts from both the academic and non-academic sectors under the theme Multi-Stimuli Responsive Molecular Systems and Materials. The objective of the research programme is to prepare new smart molecular systems and materials in a bottom-up approach from low molecular weight building blocks by exploiting dynamic covalent chemistry and supramolecular interactions. Close collaboration between the academic and industrial members in this ETN will ensure immediate commercialisation of any new technology or materials developed by the network. This ETN provides a highly structured and comprehensive training programme in nanotechnology, a subject not specifically taught in many European universities. Early-stage researchers will be recruited and trained so they are equipped with a balance of research-related and transferable skills to enhance their career perspectives in both the academic and non-academic sectors. Thus, the network will produce highly skilled, creative, innovative and entrepreneurial researchers who will contribute to European innovation capacity in nanotechnology.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2010-1.1.11 | Award Amount: 11.85M | Year: 2011

AQUAEXCEL will coordinate the highest class European aquaculture research facilities covering the entire range of production systems (recirculation, flow-through, cage, hatchery and pond systems), environments (freshwater and marine, cold and warm water), scales (small, medium and industrial scale), fish species (salmon, trout, sea bass, sea bream, cod, carp), and fields of expertise (nutrition, physiology, health and welfare, genetics, monitoring and management technologies and engineering). AQUAEXCEL will: - Link and coordinate key research infrastructures in Europe: cage, recirculation and hatchery aquaculture systems, land and sea based, fresh and salt water installations in order to create the basis for synergistic research projects - Provide research teams with access to a wide range of the state-of-the-art infrastructures covering all important aquaculture species, systems, environments and expertises - Increase resource sharing and standardization between partners, notably but not exclusively for fish models and experimental methods developed in-house - Stimulate innovation through transfer of knowledge, harmonisation and development of best practices across fields of research, production systems and species - Execute joint research and development activities designed to improve the services currently provided by the infrastructures (remote access and monitoring, more accurate performance evaluation, limitation of live animals use, applicability of results at industry scale, development of biological models). - Bridge the gap between the scientific community and the industry through stimulation of problem-based research and enhanced knowledge transfer AQUAEXCEL will facilitate a coherent development of the aquaculture research facilities for which there is a strong demand from the public and private sectors of aquaculture research, which have to work towards sustainable production of high quality seafood with reduced environmental impact.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: KBBE.2010.4-01 | Award Amount: 1.25M | Year: 2011

By integrating the key European teams in genomics, bioinformatics, animal health and animal models, EADGENE has enabled: - the gathering of a critical mass of scientists and a unique access of complementary resources across host and pathogen models - the development of innovative functional genomics so that it has become a powerful tool in veterinary molecular medicine and has contributed to a better understanding of host-pathogen interactions, for the improvement of animal health and food safety, Building from these benefits, EADGENE_S will ensure a long-term integration of the European resources in animal disease genomics grouping together the leading institutions. It will strengthen durably the creation of a core group of European research centres of excellence highly committed to integrating their resources and national facilities. To achieve this, EADGENE_S will: (1) Expend, share and upgrade common research tools and platforms for joint research projects (2) Further develop common research methods, standards and protocols (3) Maintain, consolidate and further develop high quality common research projects on animal genomics and genetics in Europe (4) Support strategies for durable integration, particularly by providing opportunities for further funding (5) Consolidate the skills and expertise throughout the partnership with a programme of workshops, training courses, short-term missions, internships and studentships (6) Provide platforms for the development, management and dissemination of knowledge (7) Ensure efficient technology transfer to the industry to ensure timely commercialisation newest developments This integration will be fulfilled under the framework of the European Research Group EADGENE (EADGENE ERG), a co-operation instrument composed of the EADGENE members as represented by their respective participating research departments.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 3.42M | Year: 2007

DRIVER is a multi-phase effort whose vision and primary objective is to establish a cohesive, pan-European infrastructure of Digital Repositories, offering sophisticated functionality services to both researchers and the general public. The present proposal (DRIVER Phase-II) aims to introduce key innovations compared to the original DRIVER project, while building on its results. The main novelties envisioned are: Establishment of a European Confederation of Digital Repositories as a strategic arm of DRIVER; Inclusion of Digital Repositories with non-textual or non-publication content, e.g., images, presentations, and possibly primary data; Construction of enhanced publications, which combine interrelated information objects into a logical whole, e.g., publications coupled with relevant presentations and associated datasets; Provision of advanced functionality to address the requirements raised by the above innovations or to serve varied modes of scientists research explorations. Additionally, DRIVER Phase-II moves from a test-bed to a production-quality infrastructure, expands the geographical coverage of Digital Repositories included in it, intensifies state-of-the-art and future-direction studies, and escalates dissemination, training, and community building activities. DRIVER Phase-II significantly broadens the horizons of the whole DRIVER endeavour regarding infrastructure operation, functionality innovation, and community relevance, and constitutes a major step on the way to the envisioned Knowledge Society.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2008-1.1.1 | Award Amount: 10.78M | Year: 2009

Mosquitoes transmit a variety of infectious diseases that cause a tremendous burden to public health. Due to climate changes and to the increase in international trade and tourism the threats posed by mosquitoes are increasingly affecting large parts of Europe, causing understandable concerns among the populations of many Member States. Control methods, mainly based on insecticide usage, are struggling to cope with the challenges posed by the biology and ecology of mosquito vectors. INFRAVEC aims at bridging the gap between the recent advances in transgenic technology and its implementation as a novel powerful approach for vector control. To this aim, a large European Infrastructure will be established, in which the coordination of efforts, expertise and facilities provided by the individual research groups and institutions will bolster and considerably expand the overall research capabilities of the research community. INFRAVEC will operate, through a number of Networking, Joint Research, Transnational and Service activities, towards the objective of considerably strengthening research capability in Europe by sharing knowledge, resources and technology. INFRAVEC will mainly focus on Anopheles gambiae, the major vector of malaria, and Aedes albopictus, a viral disease vector that is rapidly spreading through Europe. Four Infrastructure facilities will be integrated in the project: 1) the Genetically Modified mosquito laboratory of Imperial College London; 2) the Mosquito Mass-rearing facility at the Centro Agricoltura ed Ambiente (with the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency); 3) the Bioinformatics facility at EMBLEBI, UK; and 4) the Mosquito Confined Release facility at ISRIM. INFRAVEC will provide a formidable research capability to external users and facilitate the performance of five research projects aimed at utilizing basic knowledge of mosquito genetics and biology in an unprecedented effort to develop novel opportunities for mosquito control.


News Article | November 28, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Wouldn't it be great if we could tell the state of an ecosystem or the like - whether it's healthy or heading for a crisis - by keeping track of just a few key signals? Thanks to the theory of 'tipping points', that's not unthinkable. Now a team of researchers led by Alena Gsell of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has tested early warning signals: in lakes. In the Early Edition of PNAS online, they conclude that predicting works but not in all cases yet. The term 'tipping point' has become popular to describe sudden and fundamental changes that take place even though exterior conditions haven't changed as radically. Think of a financial crisis. Think of a wall that will fall down - like the Berlin Wall - or one that will end up being built somewhere else just as suddenly. And what's true for human society is also true for ecosystems: in shallow lakes, clear, limpid water may suddenly turn into smelly green soup. Once such a 'regime shift' has occurred, it's difficult or even impossible to get things back to the way they were. But that doesn't mean there are no alarm signals. There is in fact a whole range of statistical indicators that have been proposed as possible early warnings. An international team led by NIOO-researcher Alena Gsell - formerly of the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin - has now for the first time tested the potential of four of these indicators to be applied to a wide range of lakes. "We've looked at five lakes for which long-term monitoring data (16-34 years) is available", explains Alena Gsell. One of them is the Veluwemeer in the Netherlands, another Lake Washington in the United States. The good news is that in some cases, early-warning indicators were indeed detected up to several years ahead of the moment when a 'regime shift' would take place. "That leaves some time for water managers to step in and take appropriate measures." These indicators show that the resilience of lake ecosystems becomes less ahead of a regime shift. "It's something you can observe if you know an ecosystem well", says Gsell. Perturbations become bigger: water turns turbid temporarily, smaller zooplankton species are favoured and edible green algae lose ground to the less tasty bluegreens. But on the whole, the team's tests produced many negative results as well. According to Gsell, this mixed outcome shows that the early warning indicators do hold promise as a method, but are not yet as suitable for general application as had been hoped by many. For the early alarm signals to be more effective, argue the researchers, collecting long term data - an essential "window into the past" - isn't the only thing that's important. The methods for mining the data also need to become more advanced. More frequent data collection would help: per day or even hour, instead of per week or less. "If you look at the current state of the environment, investing in the adaptation of indicator methods would definitely be an effort well spent." The NIOO counts more than 300 staff members and students and is one of the largest research institutes of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The institute specialises in water and land ecology. Since 2011, the institute is located in an innovative and sustainable research building located in Wageningen, the Netherlands. The institute has an impressive research history stretching back 60 years and which spans the entire country and beyond its borders. Article: Evaluating early-warning indicators of critical transitions in natural aquatic ecosystems, Alena Sonia Gsell, Ulrike Scharfenberger, Deniz Özkundakci, Annika Walters, Lars-Anders Hansson, Annette B. G. Janssen, Peeter Nõges, Philip C. Reid, Daniel E. Schindler, Ellen van Donk, Vasilis Dakos & Rita Adrian, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 23 november 2016 (Early Edition, alvast online voorafgaand aan officiële uitgave in tijdschrift), http://www. Institutions involved: Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (Duitsland); Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie (NIOO-KNAW); Free University of Berlin (Duitsland); Waikato Regional Council (Nieuw Zeeland); US Geological Survey (VS); Lund University (Zweden); Wageningen University; Estonian University of Life Sciences (Estland); Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (VK); Plymouth University (VK); Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (VK); University of Washington (VS); ETH Zürich (Zwitserland)


Short Course to Highlight Intracellular Cytokine Detection Assay in Adoptive Cell Therapy Trials and Poster to Highlight Metaproteomic Analysis of Gut Microbiome in Enfants Caprion Biosciences Inc. announced today that Dr. Yoav Peretz, Scientific Director of ImmuneCarta will lead a short course on novel techniques in development of Intracellular cytokine detection assays in adoptive cell therapy trials at the annual Molecular Medicine Triconference held in San Francisco, CA.  The course will focus on providing guidance on detection, persistence, and phenotypic characterization of pentamer CD8+ T cells in adoptive cell immunotherapy trials. Caprion will also have a poster presentation which features an exploratory discovery study on metaproteomic analysis of infant fecal microbiome.  The goal of the study was to extract gut microbiome taxonomy and functional data in a population of infant fecal samples. The results demonstrate a proteomics approach provides functional changes and responses with significantly greater coverage of bacterial genera than the pyrosequencing approach. Pathway analysis also underlines the differences between individual microbiomes and provides insights into their functional responses to diet, disease and therapy. Short Course: Development and Deployment of an Intracellular Cytokine Detection Assay in Adoptive Cell Therapy Trials   SC24 "Flow Cytometry and Phenotypic Cell Analysis in Immuno-Oncology" Speaker: Yoav Peretz, PhD, Scientific Director, ImmuneCarta Monday, Feb 20th, 10:10am Poster presentation at the conference "Metaproteomic Analysis of the Infant Fecal Microbiome" Laetitia Cortes[1], Aude Tartière[1], Julie Piquenot[1], Sebastian Tims[2], Joost W. Gouw[2], Jan Knol[2],[3], Harm Wopereis[2],[3] and Daniel Chelsky[1] [1]Caprion Biosciences Inc, Montreal, Canada; [2]Nutricia Research, Utrecht, the Netherlands; [3]Wageningen University, Laboratory of Microbiology, Wageningen, the Netherlands About Caprion Biosciences, Inc. Caprion is the leading provider of proteomics and immune monitoring services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Caprion's immune monitoring division, ImmuneCarta®, offers proprietary multiparametric flow cytometry services for functional analyses of innate and adaptive immune responses. Caprion's proteomics division, ProteoCarta™, offers proprietary gel-free, label-free mass spectrometry (MS) for comprehensive, quantitative and robust comparative measurement of proteins across large sets of biological samples for the discovery and validation of protein biomarkers. Based in Montreal, Canada, and Belgium, Caprion has been providing large-scale proteomics and immune monitoring services to over 50 major pharmaceutical and biotech clients for more than 15 years. Caprion, a privately-held company, is majority owned by Global Healthcare Opportunities, or GHO Capital Partners LLP. For more information, please visit http://www.caprion.com.


News Article | September 20, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

Autonomous Cars - Five Things To Know About Self Driving Cars Self-driving car prototypes are already roaming the streets, and autonomous boats are about to hit the waters next year. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has teamed up with two Dutch universities to start testing a small fleet of self-sailing boats next year. The first tests will be conducted in Amsterdam, ferrying goods and commuters. The project is called Roboat, and it's a five-year, $27 million (€25 million) endeavor. The Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute), together with MIT researchers, have already started the "world's first major research program on autonomous floating vessels in metropolitan areas." Researchers from MIT, Wageningen University and Research (WUR) and Delft University of Technology (DUT) will be conducting the five-year Roboat program in the Dutch capital, deploying the first autonomous watercraft in Amsterdam canals next year. According to the press release from the AMS Institute, Roboat will be the first large-scale research of its kind, aiming to test and explore the possibilities of autonomous watercraft. "Imagine a fleet of autonomous boats for the transportation of goods and people," says Carlo Ratti, MIT professor and Roboat principal investigator. "But also think of dynamic and temporary floating infrastructure like on-demand bridges and stages, that can be assembled or disassembled in a matter of hours." Professor Arjan van Timmeren, the scientific director of the AMS Institute, adds that Roboat will open up a world of possibilities. Further research could focus on Roboats cleaning up the canals or underwater robots capable of detecting diseases early on. The Roboat research, while scheduled for Amsterdam, aims to serve as a reference for other urban areas worldwide. The first Roboat prototypes will hit the waters of Amsterdam next year, but no specific timeline is available at this point. The maritime scene could substantially change in the years to come if autonomous shipping becomes a reality. In fact, autonomous ships are seen as the future of the industry, revolutionizing the segment and paving the way to a more robotized maritime future. Rolls-Royce, for instance, already announced earlier this year that it plans to make remote and autonomous cargo vessels to automate navigation and operations. Whether it involves cars or boats, it seems that autonomous is the future. For vehicles, Uber and Lyft see a future dominated by self-driving cars, possibly eliminating the need for car ownership by 2025. The transportation revolution may as well extend to the maritime industry, and autonomous boats may eventually take over human-operated ones as well. Even so, things are still in the early stages at this point, so don't expect the final products to hit the market anytime soon. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | September 20, 2016
Site: www.gizmag.com

The research will be carried out over the course of five years(Credit: MIT Senseable City Lab / AMS Institute) Autonomous cars are generating a lot of headlines at the moment, but they aren't the only vehicles being freed from the shackles of human control. In what is billed as the world's first major research program on autonomous floating vessels in metropolitan areas, autonomous boats will soon be deployed to self-navigate the winding canals of Amsterdam, Netherlands. The €25 million (US$28 million) Roboat research program will be carried out over the course of five years. It will look at the potential of using autonomous craft for transporting people and moving goods, while also investigating the potential of portable infrastructure and environmental sensing. The thinking behind research into portable infrastructure is to come up with new ways to extend the shoreline through temporary structures like on-demand stages, bridges and platforms that can quickly be assembled and dismantled. These could be used on occasions when a city's population has increased for some reason, such as during rush hour or a festival. The research into environmental sensing, meanwhile, will investigate how the so-called Roboats can be used to gather data on things like water quality, air quality and noise. This could in turn be used to tackle things like floating waste, come up with better ways to dredge the 12,000 bikes that end up in the canals each year and, with the help of underwater robots, detect waterborne diseases. The program is a joint effort between the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS Institute), MIT, Delft University of Technology and Wageningen University and Research. Waternet, the City of Amsterdam and the City of Boston are also supporting the program. According to the AMS Institute, the research will see Roboats of different sizes and shapes tested with a view to seeing which versions work the best. You can expect the first autonomous vessels to set sail next year.


News Article | April 6, 2016
Site: www.greencarcongress.com

« EIA: trends in downsized engine design leading to increased demand for higher-octane gasoline | Main | UPV team devises 5G system for vehicle-to-vehicle communication » Elektrobit (EB), a leading developer of embedded technology solutions for the automotive industry, and Netherlands-based digital map provider Mapscape, are contributing to WEpods—completely autonomous electric shuttle buses that will use public roads. EB and Mapscape together provide an enhanced electronic horizon solution for assisting in motion prediction and path planning of the autonomous shuttle bus. Mapscape provides an NDS (Navigation Data Standard) map database with comprehensive road geometry data that provides more detailed information for objects and pinpoint locations than standard map information. The enriched data from Mapscape is then delivered to EB’s electronic horizon solution, which generates highly precise positioning information in accordance with the open ADASIS v2 specification with a range of enhancements, such as lateral offset from the road center line. This electronic horizon data is continuously updated as the vehicle is driving autonomously. It is then interpreted by EB’s ADASIS v2 Reconstructor software module into information usable by the shuttle’s ECUs, enabling the driverless vehicle to prepare for and respond to real-world situations. In case of emergency, passengers can directly contact the WEpod control room from within the shuttle, which continuously monitors vehicle safety. Shuttle attendants will also be on board to assist passengers during the test phase. The six-seater, handicap-accessible buses without steering wheel or pedals will be the first completely autonomous vehicles to drive on public roads. Unlike their driverless predecessors, like the Rotterdam Rivium Park and Heathrow shuttles, which require magnets, rails or special lanes, WEpods will maneuver through normal traffic using a complex set of sensors, cameras, radars, lasers and controls, designed to monitor and both quickly and reliably respond to changes in environment or traffic conditions. There are currently two WEpods in service in the Dutch province of Gelderland, running between the towns of Wageningen and Ede, though plans for expansion are in place. With a maximum speed of 40 km/h (25 mph)—25 km/h (15.5 mph) during the test phase—the fully electrical WEpods have a range of approximately 100 km (62 miles) per charge. Initially, WEpods will run a predetermined bus route exclusively on the Wageningen University campus. After the test phase is complete in May 2016, a taxi mode will take effect, where passengers will be able to request a WEpod via smartphone app, and the shuttles will independently create their own itineraries. The Gelderland province hopes to set an example for other cities in its move toward more flexible and sustainable mobility. Based in the Netherlands, WEpods is a community project in cooperation with the Dutch province of Gelderland and students from the Wageningen University & Research Centre and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). The WEpods project was first introduced to the public on 28 January 2016.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: IoT-01-2016 | Award Amount: 34.71M | Year: 2017

The IoF2020 project is dedicated to accelerate adoption of IoT for securing sufficient, safe and healthy food and to strengthen competitiveness of farming and food chains in Europe. It will consolidate Europes leading position in the global IoT industry by fostering a symbiotic ecosystem of farmers, food industry, technology providers and research institutes. The IoF2020 consortium of 73 partners, led by Wageningen UR and other core partners of previous key projects such as FIWARE and IoT-A, will leverage the ecosystem and architecture that was established in those projects. The heart of the project is formed by 19 use cases grouped in 5 trials with end users from the Arable, Dairy, Fruits, Vegetables and Meat verticals and IoT integrators that will demonstrate the business case of innovative IoT solutions for a large number of application areas. A lean multi-actor approach focusing on user acceptability, stakeholder engagement and sustainable business models will boost technology and market readiness levels and bring end user adoption to the next stage. This development will be enhanced by an open IoT architecture and infrastructure of reusable components based on existing standards and a security and privacy framework. Anticipating vast technological developments and emerging challenges for farming and food, the 4-year project stays agile through dynamic budgeting and adaptive decision-making by an implementation board of representatives from key user organizations. A 6 M mid-term open call will allow for testing intermediate results and extending the project with technical solutions and test sites. A coherent dissemination strategy for use case products and project learnings supported by leading user organizations will ensure a high market visibility and an increased learning curve. Thus IoF2020 will pave the way for data-driven farming, autonomous operations, virtual food chains and personalized nutrition for European citizens.


Time constraints and the competition determine a hunter's decision to shoot. Credit: Wageningen University & Research What prompts a hunter to shoot an animal after it is spotted? Wageningen and Norwegian researchers studied more than 180,000 choice situations where hunters had spotted an animal and had to decide whether or not to shoot. They found that competition among hunters and the season coming to an end led to an increased likelihood of pulling the trigger. The research team published an article this week in the scientific journal PNAS in which they recommend that future wildlife management should take into account the social conditions surrounding hunting. Hunting is a way to control wildlife populations. A deer or boar is more likely to be killed by a hunter than by a natural predator. However, very little is known about what motivates hunters to shoot a particular animal or not. The selection pattern does determine how a population develops, however. Previous research has shown that hunting is the cause of adult mortality for 80-90% of wild red deer, particularly given the lack of their natural predators such as wolves. Nevertheless, the populations in Europe and North America have grown so big that there are cases of overpopulation. Part of this increase is due to hunter selectivity: examples are the reluctance to shoot female deer with offspring, or prefentially shooting deer with large antlers for trophy. But what exactly shapes shunter selectivity? To shoot or not to shoot Researcher Andries Richter of Wageningen University & Research and his colleagues at the University of Oslo collected data on red deer hunting. They analysed a unique dataset of 256 hunting locations in western Norway between 1999 and 2010, which included both hunted animals and animals that were spotted but not shot. The 181,989 choice situations were matched with information about weather conditions and the moon phase. The researchers then developed a theoretical model containing formal and informal cultural hunting standards to draw conclusions about the factors that influence whether a hunter decides to shoot a particular animal or not. The researchers found that a shorter remaining season and competition among hunters contribute significantly to the hunter's decision to shoot an animal. Hunters are more likely to shoot an animal as the hunting season comes to an end and if sightings occur less frequently. The researchers tested their model with hunting and weather data from Norway. The results confirmed their hypotheses: a shorter remaining season and larger groups of hunters increase the probability of shooting an animal. For small groups this amounts to 20% two months before the end of the season and 40% on the last day of the season. For large groups, these figures are 33% and 55% respectively. "The findings tell us that the human factor plays an important role in hunting," says Wageningen researcher Andries Richter. The researchers concluded that wildlife management can be improved by taking into account the behaviour of hunters. "Theoretical options for adapting wildlife management policies include carrying over the unused quota from one season into the next season or introducing an individual quota per hunter," adds Richter. "Understanding the interactions between hunters, animals, and regulation is the key to optimise policy-making and striking the right balance between people and nature," he concludes. Explore further: Watch for venomous snakes when afield More information: Florian K. Diekert et al. How constraints affect the hunter's decision to shoot a deer, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1607685113


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: KBBE-2009-1-2-09 | Award Amount: 1.16M | Year: 2010

Despite the growing efforts of research and extension programs on the promotion of conservation agriculture (CA), there has been limited success with adopting CA on smallholder farms in Africa. African farming systems are highly heterogeneous in terms of agro-ecological, socio-economical and cultural environments and opportunities for CA necessarily require local adaptation. Simulation models and modelling frameworks may be used to assist our ability to better understand and target innovative technologies such as CA within complex farming systems. Over 30 months, the overall objective of this project is to assess and learn jointly from past and on-going CA experiences under which conditions and to what extent does CA strengthen the socio-economic position of landholders in Africa. For this purpose, a consortium comprising 10 highly experienced, complementary European, African and International partners has been assembled. It will develop an up-to-date knowledge database on CA practices in Africa. Biophysical, socioeconomic and conceptual models of innovation systems will be applied to a series of case studies across five regions in Africa to analyze the impact and adoption of CA at different scales (field, farm, region). This will facilitate the identification of pathways to make models readily applicable for decision-makers in different African regions and under different conditions. It will allow to set the agenda for future research, development and promotion of CA in Africa. Dissemination, networking and training will make the project outcomes highly accessible to the principal stakeholders (researchers, public and private extension services, farmer organisations, national and regional policymakers, private sector).


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: KBBE-2009-1-4-10;KBBE-2009-1-4-11 | Award Amount: 1.20M | Year: 2009

This proposal builds on the outputs of the ASEM Aquaculture Platform, established in 2003 as an EU-Asia framework for dialogue, networking and continuing coordination for sustainable aquaculture development. From 2003-2006, 6 expert workshops targeted key topics (Disease & Health management, Biodiversity & Ecological impacts, Breeding & Domestication, Education, Food safety & Legislation, Food security) and yielded valuable recommendations on future directions in research, production and trade. With increasingly critical demands on aquaculture for food supply and food security, income and employment, the vulnerability of the natural resource issues involved, and the important gains to be realised through developing stronger scientific and economic partnerships between the two regions, the aim is to move more pro-actively into effective policy, into formulation of joint research goals, and into outcomes which contribute to Millennium Development and related goals. The projects major aim is to reconcile ecosystem and economic system demands to consolidate concepts of sustainability in aquaculture development in both regions. Specific actions include: 1) validation of earlier recommendations; 2) translating priority recommendations into concrete actions; 3) facilitate industry interaction between the two regions; 4) build and exchange knowledge and its application. The common denominator of the actions is the concerted effort to initiate joint EU-Asia processes which have impact on research excellence, contributing realistically and effectively to good production practice, improved governance, fair trade, social equity and sustainability. In developing these, the ASEM Aquaculture Platform will strengthen opportunities for the EU aquaculture sector to derive value from its technological and structural assets, and develop valuable trade partnerships, using the driver of import product quality to improve product quality and value in both markets.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SFS-20-2015 | Award Amount: 6.91M | Year: 2016

Strength2Food is a 5-year, 6.9 million project to improve the effectiveness of EU food quality schemes (FQS), public sector food procurement (PSFP) and to stimulate Short Food Supply Chains (SFSC) through research, innovation and demonstration activities. Our 30-partner consortium representing 11 EU and 4 non-EU countries combines leading academic, communication, SME and stakeholder organisations to ensure a multi-actor approach. It will undertake case study-based quantitative research to measure economic, environmental and social impacts of FQS, PSFP and SFSC. The impact of PSFP policies on balanced nutrition in schools will also be assessed. Primary research will be complemented by advanced econometric analysis of existing datasets to determine impacts of FQS and SFSC participation on farm performance and survival, as well as understand price transmission and trade patterns. Consumer knowledge, confidence in, valuation and use of FQS labels and products will be assessed via cross-national survey, ethnographic and virtual supermarket-based research. Lessons from the research will be applied and verified in 6 pilot initiatives, focusing on less-developed and transition regions. These initiatives bring together academic and non-academic stakeholder partners in action research. The six pilot actions are: a school meals initiative to improve the nutritional outcomes and economic benefits for local agri-food producers; in-store trials (undertaken with a grocery retailer) to upscale sales of local produce; a scheme to stimulate a sustainable SFSC that adds value to the fishing community; and pilot actions to expand regional food labelling; increase sales of FQS products in non-traditional markers; and improve returns to local producers at food fairs and farmers markets (via a smartphone app). Project impact will be maximised through a knowledge exchange platform, hybrid forums, school educational resources, a Massive Open Online Course and practitioner recommendations.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-TP | Phase: KBBE.2012.1.4-06 | Award Amount: 1.86M | Year: 2012

Short food supply chains have been advocated as a means of rural development, as they improve the position of primary producers in the value chain. In this proposal we look at short supply chains from the perspective of urban rather than rural development. Short supply chains can play a role in addressing urban problems such as climate change, obesity, storm water control, etc. Short food supply chains have been advocated as a means to reduce CO2 impact of the agricultural system. Although a reduction of food miles certainly contributes to reducing climate impact, this proposal takes as premise that to really improve the ecological performance of the food system other flows of goods and services need to be shortened as well (e.g. nutrient, water, and carbon cycles need to be closed). In the current context these aspects are usually treated separately, this proposal argues to treat them more integrated. The research will analyse the way in which several European city regions deal with short supply chains in food, nutrients, water, and carbon. The project will facilitate selected SMEs to further innovate in food production and delivery, nutrient and water management, and multifunctional use of space, and will disseminate the results among a wider audience of SMEs. By doing so, the research will look beyond the state of the art, it will suggest how city regions could look like if they chose to further relocalise their food system. Finally the project will also establish links with stakeholders and RTD activities regarding urban and peri-urban agriculture and short chain delivery of food in urban and peri-urban areas in developing countries. This will be organised through a process of dialogue, sharing of experiences, exchanging of best practices and joint learning.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: SC5-17-2015 | Award Amount: 5.73M | Year: 2016

Currently within the EUs Earth Observation (EO) monitoring framework, there is a need for low-cost methods for acquiring high quality in-situ data to create accurate and well-validated environmental monitoring products. The aim of the LandSense project is to build a far reaching citizen observatory for Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) monitoring that will also function as a technology innovation marketplace. LandSense will deploy advanced tools, services and resources to mobilize and engage citizens to collect in-situ observations (i.e. ground-based data and visual interpretations of EO imagery). Integrating these citizen-driven in-situ data collections with established authoritative and open access data sources will help reduce costs, extend GEOSS and Copernicus capacities, and support comprehensive environmental monitoring systems. New LandSense services (LandSense Campaigner, FarmLand Support, Change Detector and Quality Assurance & Control) will be deployed in three demonstration cases that will address critical LULC issues in the areas of urbanization, agricultural land use and forest/habitat monitoring. Policy-relevant campaigns will be implemented in close collaboration with multiple stakeholders to ensure that citizen observations contribute to EU-wide environmental governance and decision-making. There will be numerous pathways to citizen empowerment via the LandSense Engagement Platform, i.e. tools for discussion, online voting collaborative mapping, as well as events linked to various campaigns involving public consultation. Simultaneously, to improve Europes role in the business of in-situ monitoring, LandSense will create sustainable business models to support market uptake and innovation of its novel added-value products and services.


News Article | November 23, 2016
Site: www.newscientist.com

Try, for a moment, to envisage a world without countries. Imagine a map not divided into neat, coloured patches, each with clear borders, governments, laws. Try to describe anything our society does – trade, travel, science, sport, maintaining peace and security – without mentioning countries. Try to describe yourself: you have a right to at least one nationality, and the right to change it, but not the right to have none. Those coloured patches on the map may be democracies, dictatorships or too chaotic to be either, but virtually all claim to be one thing: a nation state, the sovereign territory of a “people” or nation who are entitled to self-determination within a self-governing state. So says the United Nations, which now numbers 193 of them. And more and more peoples want their own state, from Scots voting for independence to jihadis declaring a new state in the Middle East. Many of the big news stories of the day, from conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine to rows over immigration and membership of the European Union, are linked to nation states in some way. Even as our economies globalise, nation states remain the planet’s premier political institution. Large votes for nationalist parties in this year’s EU elections prove nationalism remains alive – even as the EU tries to transcend it. Yet there is a growing feeling among economists, political scientists and even national governments that the nation state is not necessarily the best scale on which to run our affairs. We must manage vital matters like food supply and climate on a global scale, yet national agendas repeatedly trump the global good. At a smaller scale, city and regional administrations often seem to serve people better than national governments. How, then, should we organise ourselves? Is the nation state a natural, inevitable institution? Or is it a dangerous anachronism in a globalised world? These are not normally scientific questions – but that is changing. Complexity theorists, social scientists and historians are addressing them using new techniques, and the answers are not always what you might expect. Far from timeless, the nation state is a recent phenomenon. And as complexity keeps rising, it is already mutating into novel political structures. Get set for neo-medievalism. Before the late 18th century there were no real nation states, says John Breuilly of the London School of Economics. If you travelled across Europe, no one asked for your passport at borders; neither passports nor borders as we know them existed. People had ethnic and cultural identities, but these didn’t really define the political entity they lived in. That goes back to the anthropology, and psychology, of humanity’s earliest politics. We started as wandering, extended families, then formed larger bands of hunter-gatherers, and then, around 10,000 years ago, settled in farming villages. Such alliances had adaptive advantages, as people cooperated to feed and defend themselves. But they also had limits. Robin Dunbar of the University of Oxford has shown that one individual can keep track of social interactions linking no more than around 150 people. Evidence for that includes studies of villages and army units through history, and the average tally of Facebook friends. But there was one important reason to have more friends than that: war. “In small-scale societies, between 10 and 60 per cent of male deaths are attributable to warfare,” says Peter Turchin of the University of Connecticut at Storrs. More allies meant a higher chance of survival. Turchin has found that ancient Eurasian empires grew largest where fighting was fiercest, suggesting war was a major factor in political enlargement. Archaeologist Ian Morris of Stanford University in California reasons that as populations grew, people could no longer find empty lands where they could escape foes. The losers of battles were simply absorbed into the enemy’s domain – so domains grew bigger. How did they get past Dunbar’s number? Humanity’s universal answer was the invention of hierarchy. Several villages allied themselves under a chief; several chiefdoms banded together under a higher chief. To grow, these alliances added more villages, and if necessary more layers of hierarchy. Hierarchies meant leaders could coordinate large groups without anyone having to keep personal track of more than 150 people. In addition to their immediate circle, an individual interacted with one person from a higher level in the hierarchy, and typically eight people from lower levels, says Turchin. These alliances continued to enlarge and increase in complexity in order to perform more kinds of collective actions, says Yaneer Bar-Yam of the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. For a society to survive, its collective behaviour must be as complex as the challenges it faces – including competition from neighbours. If one group adopted a hierarchical society, its competitors also had to. Hierarchies spread and social complexity grew. Larger hierarchies not only won more wars but also fed more people through economies of scale, which enabled technical and social innovations such as irrigation, food storage, record-keeping and a unifying religion. Cities, kingdoms and empires followed. But these were not nation states. A conquered city or region could be subsumed into an empire regardless of its inhabitants’ “national” identity. “The view of the state as a necessary framework for politics, as old as civilisation itself, does not stand up to scrutiny,” says historian Andreas Osiander of the University of Leipzig in Germany. “The view of the state as a necessary framework for politics does not stand up” One key point is that agrarian societies required little actual governing. Nine people in 10 were peasants who had to farm or starve, so were largely self-organising. Government intervened to take its cut, enforce basic criminal law and keep the peace within its undisputed territories. Otherwise its main role was to fight to keep those territories, or acquire more. Even quite late on, rulers spent little time governing, says Osiander. In the 17th century Louis XIV of France had half a million troops fighting foreign wars but only 2000 keeping order at home. In the 18th century, the Dutch and Swiss needed no central government at all. Many eastern European immigrants arriving in the US in the 19th century could say what village they came from, but not what country: it didn’t matter to them. Before the modern era, says Breuilly, people defined themselves “vertically” by who their rulers were. There was little horizontal interaction between peasants beyond local markets. Whoever else the king ruled over, and whether those people were anything like oneself, was largely irrelevant. Such systems are very different from today’s states, which have well-defined boundaries filled with citizens. In a system of vertical loyalties, says Breuilly, power peaks where the overlord lives and peters out in frontier territories that shade into neighbouring regions. Ancient empires are coloured on modern maps as if they had firm borders, but they didn’t. Moreover, people and territories often came under different jurisdictions for different purposes. Such loose control, says Bar-Yam, meant pre-modern political units were only capable of scaling up a few simple actions such as growing food, fighting battles, collecting tribute and keeping order. Some, like the Roman Empire, did this on a very large scale. But complexity – the different actions society could collectively perform – was relatively low. Complexity was limited by the energy a society could harness. For most of history that essentially meant human and animal labour. In the late Middle Ages, Europe harnessed more, especially water power. This boosted social complexity – trade increased, for example– requiring more government. A decentralised feudal system gave way to centralised monarchies with more power. But these were still not nation states. Monarchies were defined by who ruled them, and rulers were defined by mutual recognition – or its converse, near-constant warfare. In Europe, however, as trade grew, monarchs discovered they could get more power from wealth than war. In 1648, Europe’s Peace of Westphalia ended centuries of war by declaring existing kingdoms, empires and other polities “sovereign”: none was to interfere in the internal affairs of others. This was a step towards modern states – but these sovereign entities were still not defined by their peoples’ national identities. International law is said to date from the Westphalia treaty, yet the word “international” was not coined until 132 years later. By then Europe had hit the tipping point of the industrial revolution. Harnessing vastly more energy from coal meant that complex behaviours performed by individuals, such as weaving, could be amplified, says Bar-Yam, producing much more complex collective behaviours. This demanded a different kind of government. In 1776 and 1789, revolutions in the US and France created the first nation states, defined by the national identity of their citizens rather than the bloodlines of their rulers. According to one landmark history of the period, says Breuilly, “in 1800 almost nobody in France thought of themselves as French. By 1900 they all did.” For various reasons, people in England had an earlier sense of “Englishness”, he says, but it was not expressed as a nationalist ideology. By 1918, with the dismemberment of Europe’s last multinational empires such as the Habsburgs in the first world war, European state boundaries had been redrawn largely along cultural and linguistic lines. In Europe at least, the nation state was the new norm. Part of the reason was a pragmatic adaptation of the scale of political control required to run an industrial economy. Unlike farming, industry needs steel, coal and other resources which are not uniformly distributed, so many micro-states were no longer viable. Meanwhile, empires became unwieldy as they industrialised and needed more actual governing. So in 19th-century Europe, micro-states fused and empires split. These new nation states were justified not merely as economically efficient, but as the fulfilment of their inhabitants’ national destiny. A succession of historians has nonetheless concluded that it was the states that defined their respective nations, and not the other way around. France, for example, was not the natural expression of a pre-existing French nation. At the revolution in 1789, half its residents did not speak French. In 1860, when Italy unified, only 2.5 per cent of residents regularly spoke standard Italian. Its leaders spoke French to each other. One famously said that, having created Italy, they now had to create Italians – a process many feel is still taking place. “At the revolution in 1789, half of France’s residents did not speak French” Sociologist Siniša Maleševic of University College Dublin in Ireland believes that this “nation building” was a key step in the evolution of modern nation states. It required the creation of an ideology of nationalism that emotionally equated the nation with people’s Dunbar circle of family and friends. That in turn relied heavily on mass communication technologies. In an influential analysis, Benedict Anderson of Cornell University in New York described nations as “imagined” communities: they far outnumber our immediate circle and we will never meet them all, yet people will die for their nation as they would for their family. Such nationalist feelings, he argued, arose after mass-market books standardised vernaculars and created linguistic communities. Newspapers allowed people to learn about events of common concern, creating a large “horizontal” community that was previously impossible. National identity was also deliberately fostered by state-funded mass education. The key factor driving this ideological process, Maleševic says, was an underlying structural one: the development of far-reaching bureaucracies needed to run complex industrialised societies. For example, says Breuilly, in the 1880s Prussia became the first government to pay unemployment benefits. At first they were paid only in a worker’s native village, where identification was not a problem. As people migrated for work, benefits were made available anywhere in Prussia. “It wasn’t until then that they had to establish who a Prussian was,” he says, and they needed bureaucracy to do it. Citizenship papers, censuses and policed borders followed. That meant hierarchical control structures ballooned, with more layers of middle management. Such bureaucracy was what really brought people together in nation-sized units, argues Maleševic. But not by design: it emerged out of the behaviour of complex hierarchical systems. As people do more kinds of activities, says Bar-Yam, the control structure of their society inevitably becomes denser. In the emerging nation state, that translates into more bureaucrats per head of population. Being tied into such close bureaucratic control also encouraged people to feel personal ties with the state, especially as ties to church and village declined. As governments exerted greater control, people got more rights, such as voting, in return. For the first time, people felt the state was theirs. Once Europe had established the nation state model and prospered, says Breuilly, everyone wanted to follow suit. In fact it’s hard now to imagine that there could be another way. But is a structure that grew spontaneously out of the complexity of the industrial revolution really the best way to manage our affairs? According to Brian Slattery of York University in Toronto, Canada, nation states still thrive on a widely held belief that “the world is naturally made of distinct, homogeneous national or tribal groups which occupy separate portions of the globe, and claim most people’s primary allegiance”. But anthropological research does not bear that out, he says. Even in tribal societies, ethnic and cultural pluralism has always been widespread. Multilingualism is common, cultures shade into each other, and language and cultural groups are not congruent. Moreover, people always have a sense of belonging to numerous different groups based on region, culture, background and more. “The claim that a person’s identity and well-being is tied in a central way to the well-being of the national group is wrong as a simple matter of historical fact,” says Slattery. Perhaps it is no wonder, then, that the nation-state model fails so often: since 1960 there have been more than 180 civil wars worldwide. Such conflicts are often blamed on ethnic or sectarian tensions. Failed states, such as Syria right now, are typically riven by violence along such lines. According to the idea that nation states should contain only one nation, such failures have often been blamed on the colonial legacy of bundling together many peoples within unnatural boundaries. But for every Syria or Iraq there is a Singapore, Malaysia or Tanzania, getting along okay despite having several “national” groups. Immigrant states in Australia and the Americas, meanwhile, forged single nations out of massive initial diversity. What makes the difference? It turns out that while ethnicity and language are important, what really matters is bureaucracy. This is clear in the varying fates of the independent states that emerged as Europe’s overseas empires fell apart after the second world war. According to the mythology of nationalism, all they needed was a territory, a flag, a national government and UN recognition. In fact what they really needed was complex bureaucracy. Some former colonies that had one became stable democracies, notably India. Others did not, especially those such as the former Belgian Congo, whose colonial rulers had merely extracted resources. Many of these became dictatorships, which require a much simpler bureaucracy than democracies. Dictatorships exacerbate ethnic strife because their institutions do not promote citizens’ identification with the nation. In such situations, people fall back on trusted alliances based on kinship, which readily elicit Dunbar-like loyalties. Insecure governments allied to ethnic groups favour their own, while grievances among the disfavoured groups grow – and the resulting conflict can be fierce. Recent research confirms that the problem is not ethnic diversity itself, but not enough official inclusiveness. Countries with little historic ethnic diversity are now having to learn that on the fly, as people migrate to find jobs within a globalised economy. How that pans out may depend on whether people self-segregate. Humans like being around people like themselves, and ethnic enclaves can be the result. Jennifer Neal of Michigan State University in East Lansing has used agent-based modelling to look at the effect of this in city neighbourhoods. Her work suggests that enclaves promote social cohesion, but at the cost of decreasing tolerance between groups. Small enclaves in close proximity may be the solution. But at what scale? Bar-Yam says communities where people are well mixed – such as in peaceable Singapore, where enclaves are actively discouraged – tend not to have ethnic strife. Larger enclaves can also foster stability. Using mathematical models to correlate the size of enclaves with the incidences of ethnic strife in India, Switzerland and the former Yugoslavia, he found that enclaves 56 kilometres or more wide make for peaceful coexistence – especially if they are separated by natural geographical barriers, Switzerland’s 26 cantons, for example, which have different languages and religions, meet Bar-Yam’s spatial stability test – except one. A French-speaking enclave in German-speaking Berne experienced the only major unrest in recent Swiss history. It was resolved by making it a separate canton, Jura, which meets the criteria. Again, though, ethnicity and language are only part of the story. Lars-Erik Cederman of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich argues that Swiss cantons have achieved peace not by geographical adjustment of frontiers, but by political arrangements giving cantons considerable autonomy and a part in collective decisions. Similarly, using a recently compiled database to analyse civil wars since 1960, Cederman finds that strife is indeed more likely in countries that are more ethnically diverse. But careful analysis confirms that trouble arises not from diversity alone, but when certain groups are systematically excluded from power. Governments with ethnicity-based politics were especially vulnerable. The US set up just such a government in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. Exclusion of Sunni by Shiites led to insurgents declaring a Sunni state in occupied territory in Iraq and Syria. True to nation-state mythology, it rejects the colonial boundaries of Iraq and Syria, as they force dissimilar “nations” together. Yet the solution cannot be imposing ethnic uniformity. Historically, so-called ethnic cleansing has been uniquely bloody, and “national” uniformity is no guarantee of harmony. In any case, there is no good definition of an ethnic group. Many people’s ethnicities are mixed and change with the political weather: the numbers who claimed to be German in the Czech Sudetenland territory annexed by Hitler changed dramatically before and after the war. Russian claims to Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine now may be equally flimsy. Both Bar-Yam’s and Cederman’s research suggests one answer to diversity within nation states: devolve power to local communities, as multicultural states such as Belgium and Canada have done. “We need a conception of the state as a place where multiple affiliations and languages and religions may be safe and flourish,” says Slattery. “That is the ideal Tanzania has embraced and it seems to be working reasonably well.” Tanzania has more than 120 ethnic groups and about 100 languages. In the end, what may matter more than ethnicity, language or religion is economic scale. The scale needed to prosper may have changed with technology – tiny Estonia is a high-tech winner – but a small state may still not pack enough economic power to compete. That is one reason why Estonia is such an enthusiastic member of the European Union. After the devastating wars in the 20th century, European countries tried to prevent further war by integrating their basic industries. That project, which became the European Union, now primarily offers member states profitable economies of scale, through manufacturing and selling in the world’s largest single market. What the EU fails to inspire is nationalist-style allegiance – which Maleševic thinks nowadays relies on the “banal” nationalism of sport, anthems, TV news programmes, even song contests. That means Europeans’ allegiances are no longer identified with the political unit that handles much of their government. Ironically, says Jan Zielonka of the University of Oxford, the EU has saved Europe’s nation states, which are now too small to compete individually. The call by nationalist parties to “take back power from Brussels”, he argues, would lead to weaker countries, not stronger ones. He sees a different problem. Nation states grew out of the complex hierarchies of the industrial revolution. The EU adds another layer of hierarchy – but without enough underlying integration to wield decisive power. It lacks both of Maleševic’s necessary conditions: nationalist ideology and pervasive integrating bureaucracy. Even so, the EU may point the way to what a post-nation-state world will look like. Zielonka agrees that further integration of Europe’s governing systems is needed as economies become more interdependent. But he says Europe’s often-paralysed hierarchy cannot achieve this. Instead he sees the replacement of hierarchy by networks of cities, regions and even non-governmental organisations. Sound familiar? Proponents call it neo-medievalism. “The future structure and exercise of political power will resemble the medieval model more than the Westphalian one,” Zielonka says. “The latter is about concentration of power, sovereignty and clear-cut identity.” Neo-medievalism, on the other hand, means overlapping authorities, divided sovereignty, multiple identities and governing institutions, and fuzzy borders. “The future exercise of power will resemble the medieval model” Anne-Marie Slaughter of Princeton University, a former US assistant secretary of state, also sees hierarchies giving way to global networks primarily of experts and bureaucrats from nation states. For example, governments now work more through flexible networks such as the G7 (or 8, or 20) to manage global problems than through the UN hierarchy. Ian Goldin, head of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, which analyses global problems, thinks such networks must emerge. He believes existing institutions such as UN agencies and the World Bank are structurally unable to deal with problems that emerge from global interrelatedness, such as economic instability, pandemics, climate change and cybersecurity – partly because they are hierarchies of member states which themselves cannot deal with these global problems. He quotes Slaughter: “Networked problems require a networked response.” Again, the underlying behaviour of systems and the limits of the human brain explain why. Bar-Yam notes that in any hierarchy, the person at the top has to be able to get their head around the whole system. When systems are too complex for one human mind to grasp, he argues that they must evolve from hierarchies into networks where no one person is in charge. Where does this leave nation states? “They remain the main containers of power in the world,” says Breuilly. And we need their power to maintain the personal security that has permitted human violence to decline to all-time lows. Moreover, says Dani Rodrik of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, the very globalised economy that is allowing these networks to emerge needs something or somebody to write and enforce the rules. Nation states are currently the only entities powerful enough to do this. Yet their limitations are clear, both in solving global problems and resolving local conflicts. One solution may be to pay more attention to the scale of government. Known as subsidiarity, this is a basic principle of the EU: the idea that government should act at the level where it is most effective, with local government for local problems and higher powers at higher scales. There is empirical evidence that it works: social and ecological systems can be better governed when their users self-organise than when they are run by outside leaders. However, it is hard to see how our political system can evolve coherently in that direction. Nation states could get in the way of both devolution to local control and networking to achieve global goals. With climate change, it is arguable that they already have. There is an alternative to evolving towards a globalised world of interlocking networks, neo-medieval or not, and that is collapse. “Most hierarchical systems tend to become top-heavy, expensive and incapable of responding to change,” says Marten Scheffer of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. “The resulting tension may be released through partial collapse.” For nation states, that could mean anything from the renewed pre-eminence of cities to Iraq-style anarchy. An uncertain prospect, but there is an upside. Collapse, say some, is the creative destruction that allows new structures to emerge. Like it or not, our societies may already be undergoing this transition. We cannot yet imagine there are no countries. But recognising that they were temporary solutions to specific historical situations can only help us manage a transition to whatever we need next. Whether or not our nations endure, the structures through which we govern our affairs are due for a change. Time to start imagining. Leader: “In our world beyond nations, the future is medieval” This article appeared in print under the headline “Imagine there’s no countries…”


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.2-1 | Award Amount: 9.99M | Year: 2014

Water and water-related services are major components of the human wellbeing, and as such are major factors of socio-economic development in Europe; yet freshwater systems are under threat by a variety of stressors (organic and inorganic pollution, geomorphological alterations, land cover change, water abstraction, invasive species and pathogens. Some stressors, such as water scarcity, can be a stressor on its own because of its structural character, and drive the effects of other stressors. The relevance of water scarcity as a stressor is more important in semi-arid regions, such as the Mediterranean basin, which are characterized by highly variable river flows and the occurrence of low flows. This has resulted in increases in frequency and magnitude of extreme flow events. Furthermore, in other European regions such as eastern Germany, western Poland and England, water demand exceeds water availability and water scarcity has become an important management issue. Water scarcity is most commonly associated with inappropriate water management, with resulting river flow reductions. It has become one of the most important drivers of change in freshwater ecosystems. Conjoint occurrence of a myriad of stressors (chemical, geomorphological, biological) under water scarcity will produce novel and unfamiliar synergies and most likely very pronounced effects. Within this context, GLOBAQUA has assembled a multidisciplinary team of leading scientists in the fields of hydrology, chemistry, ecology, ecotoxicology, economy, sociology, engineering and modeling in order to study the interaction of multiple stressors within the frame of strong pressure on water resources. The aim is to achieve a better understanding how current management practices and policies could be improved by identifying the main drawbacks and alternatives.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.2.2 | Award Amount: 25.84M | Year: 2009

The European robotics industry plays a key role in maintaining our continents industrial base. The robotics industry is strong, but fragmented and dispersed. In the future, cutting-edge technology resulting from top-level research will be the decisive factor for success. Europe not only has a powerful robotics industry, but can also boast superb research. By drawing on these resources, ECHORD aims at producing new knowledge through advancing the state of the art in selected research foci and developing novel technology from which new products can be derived. Within ECHORD, opportunities for knowledge advancement and technology transfer between academia and industry will be created across the whole continent. This will be achieved through the solicitation of focused, small-size RTD projects, so-called experiments, which can be rapidly negotiated, funded and executed. Via these experiments, ECHORD will bring about a large-scale introduction of robotic equipment into research institutions. This is expected to result in both tangible and measurable out-comes in terms of the accelerated development of technologies, as well as the deployment of robotics technology into new scenarios for the direct application of research results. For ECHORD, three such scenarios have been defined: human-robot co-working, hyper flexible cells, and cognitive factories. The foremost purpose of the scenarios is to define an environment that is both scientifically challenging to research institutions and commercially relevant to robot manufacturers.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2012-1.1.26. | Award Amount: 8.20M | Year: 2013

This project aims at integrating the major European infrastructures in the field of high-resolution solar physics. The following actions will be taken: (i) realise Trans-national Access to external European users; (ii) enhance and spread data acquisition and processing expertise to the Europe-wide community; (iii) increase the impact of high-resolution data by offering science-ready data and facilitating their retrieval and usage; (iv) encourage combination of space and ground-based data by providing unified access to pertinent data repositories; (v) foster synergies between different research communities by organising meetings where each presents state-of-the-art methodologies; (vi) train a new generation of solar researchers through setting up schools and an ambitious mobility programme; (vii) develop prototypes for new-generation post-focus instruments; (vii) study local and non-local atmospheric turbulence, their impact on image quality, and ways to negate their effects; (viii) improve the performance of existing telescopes; (ix) improve designs of future large European ground-and space-based solar telescopes; (x) lay foundations for combined use of facilities around the world and in space; (xi) reinforce partnership with industry to promote technology transfer through existing networks; and (xii) dissemination activities towards society. The project involves all pertinent European research institutions, infrastructures, and data repositories. Together, these represent first-class facilities. The additional participation by private companies and non-European research institutions maximizes the impact on the world-wide scale. In particular, the project achievements will be of principal importance in defining the exploitation of the future 4-meter European Solar Telescope.


Eilmann B.,Swiss Federal Institute of forest | Eilmann B.,Wageningen University | Rigling A.,Swiss Federal Institute of forest
Tree Physiology | Year: 2012

Climate change is challenging forestry management and practices. Among other things, tree species with the ability to cope with more extreme climate conditions have to be identified. However, while environmental factors may severely limit tree growth or even cause tree death, assessing a tree species' potential for surviving future aggravated environmental conditions is rather demanding. The aim of this study was to find a tree-ring-based method suitable for identifying very droughttolerant species, particularly potential substitute species for Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) in Valais. In this inner-Alpine valley, Scots pine used to be the dominating species for dry forests, but today it suffers from high drought-induced mortality. We investigate the growth response of two native tree species, Scots pine and European larch (Larix decidua Mill.), and two non-native species, black pine (Pinus nigra Arnold) and Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii Mirb. var. menziesii), to drought. This involved analysing how the radial increment of these species responded to increasing water shortage (abandonment of irrigation) and to increasingly frequent drought years. Black pine and Douglas fir are able to cope with drought better than Scots pine and larch, as they show relatively high radial growth even after irrigation has been stopped and a plastic growth response to drought years. European larch does not seem to be able to cope with these dry conditions as it lacks the ability to recover from drought years. The analysis of trees' short-term response to extreme climate events seems to be the most promising and suitable method for detecting how tolerant a tree species is towards drought. However, combining all the methods used in this study provides a complete picture of how water shortage could limit species. © The Author 2011.


Wals A.E.J.,Wageningen University | Brody M.,Montana State University | Dillon J.,King's College London | Stevenson R.B.,James Cook University
Science | Year: 2014

Citizen science and concerns about sustainability can catalyze much-needed synergy between environmental education and science education.


Medema M.H.,Wageningen University | Fischbach M.A.,University of California at San Francisco
Nature Chemical Biology | Year: 2015

Starting with the earliest Streptomyces genome sequences, the promise of natural product genome mining has been captivating: genomics and bioinformatics would transform compound discovery from an ad hoc pursuit to a high-throughput endeavor. Until recently, however, genome mining has advanced natural product discovery only modestly. Here, we argue that the development of algorithms to mine the continuously increasing amounts of (meta)genomic data will enable the promise of genome mining to be realized. We review computational strategies that have been developed to identify biosynthetic gene clusters in genome sequences and predict the chemical structures of their products. We then discuss networking strategies that can systematize large volumes of genetic and chemical data and connect genomic information to metabolomic and phenotypic data. Finally, we provide a vision of what natural product discovery might look like in the future, specifically considering longstanding questions in microbial ecology regarding the roles of metabolites in interspecies interactions. © 2015 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved.


Hanewinkel M.,Swiss Federal Institute of forest | Hanewinkel M.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Cullmann D.A.,Forest Research Institute of Baden Wuerttemberg | Schelhaas M.-J.,Wageningen University | And 2 more authors.
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2013

European forests, covering more than 2 million km2 or 32% of the land surface1, are to a large extent intensively managed and support an important timber industry. Climate change is expected to strongly affect tree species distribution within these forests2,3. Climate and land use are undergoing rapid changes at present4, with initial range shifts already visible5. However, discussions on the consequences of biome shifts have concentrated on ecological issues6. Here we show that forecasted changes in temperature and precipitation may have severe economic consequences. On the basis of our model results, the expected value of European forest land will decrease owing to the decline of economically valuable species in the absence of effective countermeasures. We found that by 2100 - depending on the interest rate and climate scenario applied - this loss varies between 14 and 50% (mean: 28% for an interest rate of 2%) of the present value of forest land in Europe, excluding Russia, and may total several hundred billion Euros. Our model shows that - depending on different realizations of three climate scenarios - by 2100, between 21 and 60% (mean: 34%) of European forest lands will be suitable only for a Mediterranean oak forest type with low economic returns for forest owners and the timber industry and reduced carbon sequestration. Copyright © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited.


Mullendore D.L.,Washington State University | Windt C.W.,Jülich Research Center | van As H.,Wageningen University | Knoblauch M.,Washington State University
Plant Cell | Year: 2010

Sieve elements are one of the least understood cell types in plants. Translocation velocities and volume flow to supply sinks with photoassimilates greatly depend on the geometry of the microfluidic sieve tube system and especially on the anatomy of sieve plates and sieve plate pores. Several models for phloem translocation have been developed, but appropriate data on the geometry of pores, plates, sieve elements, and flow parameters are lacking. We developed a method to clear cells from cytoplasmic constituents to image cell walls by scanning electron microscopy. This method allows high-resolution measurements of sieve element and sieve plate geometries. Sieve tube-specific conductivity and its reduction by callose deposition after injury was calculated for green bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), bamboo (Phyllostachys nuda), squash (Cucurbita maxima), castor bean (Ricinus communis), and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Phloem sap velocity measurements by magnetic resonance imaging velocimetry indicate that higher conductivity is not accompanied by a higher velocity. Studies on the temporal development of callose show that small sieve plate pores might be occluded by callose within minutes, but plants containing sieve tubes with large pores need additional mechanisms. © 2010 American Society of Plant Biologists.


Gardi C.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra | Jeffery S.,Wageningen University | Saltelli A.,European Commission - Joint Research Center Ispra
Global Change Biology | Year: 2013

Life within the soil is vital for maintaining life on Earth due to the numerous ecosystem services that it provides. However, there is evidence that pressures on the soil biota are increasing which may undermine some of these ecosystem services. Current levels of belowground biodiversity are relatively poorly known, and so no benchmark exists by which to measure possible future losses of biodiversity. Furthermore, the relative risk that each type of anthropogenic pressures places on the soil biota remains unclear. Potential threats to soil biodiversity were calculated through the use of a composite score produced from data collected from 20 international experts using the budget allocation methodology. This allowed relative weightings to be given to each of the identified pressures for which data were available in the European Soil Data Centre (ESDC). A total of seven different indicators were used for calculating the composite scores. These data were applied through a model using ArcGIS to produce a spatial analysis of composite pressures on soil biodiversity at the European scale. The model highlights the variation in the composite result of the potential threats to soil biodiversity. A sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the intensity of land exploitation, both in terms of agriculture and use intensity, as well as in terms of land-use dynamics, were the main factors applying pressure on soil biodiversity. It is important to note that the model should not be viewed as an estimate of the current level of soil biodiversity in Europe, but as an estimate of pressures that are currently being exerted. The results obtained should be seen as a starting point for further investigation on this relatively unknown issue and demonstrate the utility of this type of model which may be applied to other regions and scales. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Rodriguez M.,Wageningen University | Basten Snoek L.,Wageningen University | De Bono M.,Medical Research Council | Kammenga J.E.,Wageningen University
Trends in Genetics | Year: 2013

Many organisms have stress response pathways, components of which share homology with players in complex human disease pathways. Research on stress response in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans has provided detailed insights into the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying complex human diseases. In this review we focus on four different types of environmental stress responses - heat shock, oxidative stress, hypoxia, and osmotic stress - and on how these can be used to study the genetics of complex human diseases. All four types of responses involve the genetic machineries that underlie a number of complex human diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. We highlight the types of stress response experiments required to detect the genes and pathways underlying human disease and suggest that studying stress biology in worms can be translated to understanding human disease and provide potential targets for drug discovery. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Bouwman H.,North West University South Africa | van den Berg H.,Wageningen University | Kylin H.,Linköping University
Environmental Health Perspectives | Year: 2011

Background: The debate regarding dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) in malaria prevention and human health is polarized and can be classified into three positions: anti DDT, centrist-DDT, pro-DDT. O B jective: We attempted to arrive at a synthesis by matching a series of questions on the use of DDT for indoor residual spraying (IRS) with literature and insights, and to identify options and opportunities. D iscussion: Overall, community health is significantly improved through all available malaria control measures, which include IRS with DDT. Is DDT "good"? Yes, because it has saved many lives. Is DDT safe as used in IRS? Recent publications have increasingly raised concerns about the health implications of DDT. Therefore, an unqualified statement that DDT used in IRS is safe is untenable. Are inhabitants and applicators exposed? Yes, and to high levels. Should DDT be used? The fact that DDT is "good" because it saves lives, and "not safe" because it has health and environmental consequences, raises ethical issues. The evidence of adverse human health effects due to DDT is mounting. However, under certain circumstances, malaria control using DDT cannot yet be halted. Therefore, the continued use of DDT poses a paradox recognized by a centrist-DDT position. At the very least, it is now time to invoke precaution. Precautionary actions could include use and exposure reduction. C onclusions: There are situations where DDT will provide the best achievable health benefit, but maintaining that DDT is safe ignores the cumulative indications of many studies. In such situations, addressing the paradox from a centrist-DDT position and invoking precaution will help design choices for healthier lives.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: SC5-03b-2014 | Award Amount: 5.21M | Year: 2015

An important question for policy makers, in the G20 and beyond, is how to bring climate action into the broader sustainable development agenda. Objectives like energy poverty eradication, increased well-being and welfare, air quality improvement, energy security enhancement, and food and water availability will continue to remain important over the next several decades. There have been relatively few scientific analyses, however, that have explored the complex interplay between climate action and development while simultaneously taking both global and national perspectives. The CD-LINKS project will change this, filling this critical knowledge gap and providing much-needed information for designing complementary climate-development policies. CD-LINKS has four overarching goals: (i) to gain an improved understanding of the linkages between climate change policies (mitigation/adaptation) and multiple sustainable development objectives, (ii) to broaden the evidence base in the area of policy effectiveness by exploring past and current policy experiences, (iii) to develop the next generation of globally consistent, national low-carbon development pathways, and (iv) to establish a research network and capacity building platform in order to leverage knowledge-exchange among institutions from Europe and other key players within the G20. Through six highly integrated work packages from empirical research to model and scenario development CD-LINKS will advance the state-of-the-art of climate-development policy analysis and modelling in a number of areas. The project aims to have a pronounced impact on the policy dialogue, both nationally and internationally: an important outcome of the project will be a list of country-specific policy recommendations for effectively managing the long-term transformation process. These recommendations will point out opportunities for policy synergies and at the same time respect political and institutional barriers to implementation.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2007.2.1.4.1. | Award Amount: 4.58M | Year: 2008

European soil biodiversity is pivotal for delivering food, fiber and biofuels and carbon storage. However, the demand is greater than the amount of soil available, as production of biofuels competes with areas for food production and nature. Moreover, intensified land use reduces soil biodiversity and the resulting ecosystem services. SOILSERVICE will value soil biodiversity through the impact on ecosystem services and propose how these values can be granted through payments. SOILSERVICE will combine interdisciplinary empirical studies and soil biodiversity surveys to construct soil food web models and determine effects of changing soil biodiversity on stability and resilience of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling, as well as assess consequences for outbreaks of pests or invasive species. SOILSERVICE will link ecological and economic models to develop a system for valuing soil biodiversity in relation to ecosystem services. Objectives: Develop methods to value soil ecosystem services during different pressure of land use and changes in soil biodiversity. Field and modelling studies will determine to what spatial and temporal scales soil biodiversity and soil ecosystem services are vulnerable to disturbance. Detecting processes that indicate when ecosystems are approaching the limits of their natural functioning or productive capacity. Establishing methods to determine and predict sustainability of ecosystem services at different types of land use Building scenarios to identify economical and social drivers of how land use such as biofuel production and land abandonment can influence soil biodiversity and ecosystem services over European scale. Interacting with EU policies and strategies with results on which services are at threat and mitigating changes in soil biodiversity to achieve a sustainable use of soils. Our results contribute to a European knowledge-based competitive economy and to a future EU directive on soils.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE-2007-1-3-01 | Award Amount: 3.88M | Year: 2008

The objective of ROBUSTMILK is to develop new practical technologies to allow breeders to re-focus their selection to include milk quality and dairy cow robustness and to evaluate the consequences of selection for these traits taking cognisance of various milk production systems. Six research organisations, all with a strong network in the animal breeding industry, have agreed to share knowledge and resources to develop a strong research program to achieve this objective. Each partner has its own specialised expertise (phenotypic recording, statistics, genomics) and unique data available, in the form of milk quality and dairy cattle robustness. The overall objective is achieved by five integrated workpackages, each having their own objective: 1) Creation of a common data-base that includes unique and scarcely recorded phenotypic measurements for traits underlying robustness and milk quality, together with productivity records and fertility; 2) to develop phenotypic measurement tools for robustness (energy balance) and milk quality (lactoferrin and fatty acid composition) using mid-infrared spectrometry; 3) to develop statistical tools to select for robustness and milk quality (udder health and SCC) taking into account complex biological backgrounds; 4) to develop genomic tools for selection for productivity, robustness (fertility, energy balance and udder health) and milk quality traits (lactoferrin and fatty acid composition); and 5) integrating and disseminating knowledge on the consequences of selection practises on robustness and milk quality. ROBUSTMILK has the potential to enhance the competitiveness of European agriculture through the production of higher quality dairy products and more sustainable dairy production systems. ROBUSTMILK will contribute significantly towards the Knowledge Based Bio Economy objective of the EU, through a greater understanding of factors contributing to genetic variation and exploiting this variation in a sustainable manner in genetic improvement programmes.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: HEALTH.2012.2.1.2-2 | Award Amount: 15.68M | Year: 2013

The overall goal with INFECT is to advance our understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms, prognosis, and diagnosis of the multifactorial highly lethal NSTIs. The fulminant course of NSTIs (in the order of hours) demands immediate diagnosis and adequate interventions in order to salvage lives and limbs. However, diagnosis and management are difficult due to heterogeneity in clinical presentation, in co-morbidities and in microbiological aetiology. Thus, there is an urgent need for novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in order to improve outcome of NSTIs. To achieve this, a comprehensive and integrated knowledge of diagnostic features, causative microbial agent, treatment strategies, and pathogenic mechanisms (host and bacterial disease traits and their underlying interaction network) is required. INFECT is designed to obtain such insights through an integrated systems biology approach in patients and different clinically relevant experimental models. Specific objectives of INFECT are to: 1. Unravel specific mechanisms underlying diseases signatures though a bottom-up systems approach applied to clinically relevant experimental settings 2. Apply a top-down systems biology approach to NSTI patient samples to pin-point key host and pathogen factors involved in the onset and development of infection 3. Identify and quantify disease signatures and underlying networks that contribute to disease outcome 4. Exploit identified disease traits for the innovation of optimized diagnostic tools 5. Translate the advanced knowledge generated into evidence-based guidelines for classification and management, and novel therapeutic strategies We have gathered a team of multidisciplinary researchers, clinicians, SMEs and a patient organization, each with a unique expertise, technical platform and/or model systems that together provide the means to successfully conduct the multifaceted research proposed and efficiently disseminate/exploit the knowledge obtained.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENERGY.2012.3.2.1 | Award Amount: 5.43M | Year: 2013

Microalgae are very attractive for the purpose of producing energy-rich molecules as they are photosynthetic organisms that can live in various aqueous environments, such as saline water. This gives them a low water footprint and moreover they do not have to compete with cultivated farmland. Although they are not superior to higher plants concerning photosynthetic efficiency, microalgae do have high growth rates and they provide much higher oil yields than higher plants such as palm, soybean or rapeseed, and do not produce lignocelluloses. Microalgae do not only use sunlight as energy source, but they are also very efficient in using fertilizers and waste streams as nutrient source. They could be used to clean these streams by removal of nitrogen and phosphate and use flue gas as source for carbon dioxide. The potential of microalgae is clear but the technology for producing biofuels from microalgae is still immature. In order to make microalgae as a source for biofuels competitive with fossil fuels, it is important to reduce operational costs and to achieve a positive energy balance (fossil energy input is higher than energy output). The overall aim of FUEL4ME is to establish a sustainable chain for continuous biofuel production using microalgae as a production platform, thereby making 2nd generation biofuels competitive alternatives to fossil fuels. This will be achieved by: 1) Transforming the current 2-step process for algal biomass production into a continuous 1-step process with high lipid content (production process); 2) Development of a continuous downstream process using all components of the algal biomass (conversion process); 3) Integration of production and conversion process. After setting up and proof of concept within controlled indoor conditions, the continuous process will be tested outdoors under real production conditions in four different regions (NL, IL, IT ES). Simultaneous with research on biomass production, a continuous downstream process will be developed. Finally the whole process (both biomass production and conversion into biofuel) will be integrated and subjected to an economic analysis and life cycle analysis. Partners in this project are: DLO-Food&Biobased Research, DLO-Plant Research International, Wageningen University, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Fotosintetica & Microbiologica S.r.l., Biotopic, Evodos B.V., Pursuit Dynamics, FeyeCon Carbon Dioxide Technologies BV, Neste Oil, JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, IDConsortium S.L.


Patent
Foundation University and Wageningen University | Date: 2012-03-12

Molecular markers are described for determining the presence or absence of a gene conferring resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus from S. chilense (Ty-1) in a host plant. Also described, are methods for producing a host plant comprising a gene conferring resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus from S. chilense (Ty-1), including the analysis of the presence or absence of the molecular markers. A plant, and parts thereof, obtained by such a method are also described.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2009-2-2-03 | Award Amount: 7.82M | Year: 2010

The food and health relationship focuses on maintenance of optimal health, both in terms of physiology and new European legislation. Yet, most accepted biomarkers quantify (intermediate) disease endpoints or damage. This has led to major problems in demonstrating health benefits and establishing health claims, and blocks competitive economic and health developments in the food sector. BIOCLAIMS develops new biomarkers by exploiting the new concept of health biomarkers through quantification of the robustness of the homeostatic mechanisms involved in maintaining optimal health, based on the assumption that the ability to maintain homeostasis in a continuously challenged environment and changing physiology is key for healthy ageing. Mechanisms involved will be investigated during a series of food interventions in animal models and humans using predisposed conditions. Human models of presumed impaired robustness in maintaining metabolic and vascular health will be employed to study the responses of established and novel biomarkers to the challenging of homeostasis and to selected food interventions. Both advanced analytical methodology including nutrigenomics tools (transcriptomics, metabolomics, fatty acid composition, adipokine profile, macromolecule damage) and whole body physiological assessments will be exploited to derive a series of new biomarkers. Gender differences will be addressed. BIOCLAIMS thus delivers a series of robust biomarkers predictive of a healthy metabolic phenotype during ageing, based on stressors of homeostasis, These biomarkers will be fully characterized and evaluated for practical application in human nutrition, and compared to traditional ones. The consortium consists of 11 teams, balanced in gender and geographical distribution, with track records in animal physiology, human studies in the relevant health areas, nutrigenomics and new analytical approaches, and scientific assessment of health claims in the EU.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2010.1.2.3-1 | Award Amount: 2.62M | Year: 2011

The BROWSE proposal is focussed directly and precisely on all the requirements of the call text. Specifically, it will: - Review, improve and extend the models currently used in the risk assessment of plant protection products (PPPs) to evaluate the exposure of operators, workers, residents and bystanders. - Use the new and improved exposure models to contribute to the implementation of Regulation 1107/2009 on authorisation of PPPs, replacing Directive 91/414/EC. - Use the new and improved exposure models to contribute to the implementation of the Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides. - Involve all relevant stakeholders and end-users and take full account of relevant gender issues in developing the exposure models and policy tools. The workplan is aligned with these key objectives. In addition, several key cross-cutting themes are established to ensure their consistent and integrated treatment throughout the project. These are: exposure scenarios, volatilisation, transfer coefficients, statistical modelling and calibration, and data management. Key stakeholder groups will be represented on the project Advisory Panel as well as participating directly via consultations and workshops, and in surveys to obtain new data on practices and sociobehavioural and gender factors influencing exposure. Models for key exposure scenarios covering different regions of the EU will be developed in order of priority based on consultation with stakeholders, implemented as user-friendly software, and tested with end-users. Project outputs will be delivered through established networks with end-users in EU and national authorities, national training organisations, the pesticide industry, and relevant trade unions and NGOs. The consortium is superbly equipped to address the project objectives, including international leading experts on every aspect and long experience in both the science and the regulatory aspects of exposure assessment.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: NMP-2008-1.3-2 | Award Amount: 3.66M | Year: 2009

The use of engineered nanoparticles in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, sensors and many other commercial applications has been growing exponentially over the past decade. EU and Member States research into the environmental impact of these materials, particularly in aquatic systems, is at an early stage. ENNSATOX addresses this deficit through a, comprehensive investigation relating the structure and functionality of well characterised engineered nanoparticles to their biological activity in environmental aquatic systems. An integrated approach will assess the activity of the particles in a series of biological models of increasing complexity. Parallel environmental studies will take place on the behaviour of the nanoparticles in natural waters and how they modify the particles chemical reactivity, physical form and biological activity. An integrated theoretical model will be developed describing the environmental system as a series of biological compartments where particles transport between a) compartments by advection-diffusion and b) between phases by a transfer function. Following optimisation of the transfer functions a generic predictive model will be derived for the environmental impact of each class of nanoparticle in aqueous systems. A generalised understanding of the dependence of the nanoparticle biological activity on its structure and functionality will be obtained including the role and interaction of the biological membranes within organisms. ENNSATOX will generate: 1) exploitable IP (devices and ecotoxicology predictive software package); 2) set of standard protocols for assay of nanoparticle biological activity which can be later accredited; 3) global dissemination of results; 4) creation of an EU laboratory service; 5) tools and data to inform EU Regulation and the ECs code of conduct for responsible nanosciences and nanotechnologies research, ftp://ftp.cordis.europa.eu/pub/nanotechnology/docs/nanocode-recommendation-pe0894c08424_en.pdf.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN | Award Amount: 3.55M | Year: 2011

SANITAS will create the next generation of integrated Urban Water System (UWS) management professionals by providing a unique Europewide training platform in the technical and complementary skills they will require. This is needed since in the near future climate change will bring dramatic regional variations in excessive surplus and deficiency in water supply and unpredictable variations in water quality placing unprecedented demands on European UWSs. SANITAS is acutely aware of many unmet needs regarding deficiencies in manpower and application of innovation to the field. The partners have realized the need to draw on their Complementary skills, to innovate at all levels and create a critical mass of excellence that will drive the innovation required to comprehensively address the fundamental rethinking of water use management that climate change demands. They have also realized that the scale of the problems to be faced in future will require new approaches to cooperation between academia, industry and policy makers that transcend traditional barriers to the creation and uptake of innovation and enabling technologies. By drawing on expert participation from academia, industry, water authorities and policy specialists, SANITAS will critically examine and develop the cutting edge skills required to meet the future UWS management challenges that Europe faces. SANITAS introduces novel methodologies that will provide direct training to researchers in Intellectual Asset Management, patent application filing and how to write successful reports for policy makers. Over and above regional impact, SANITAS will serve as a source for regional UWS infrastructure integration and policy formulation worldwide. By doing so, SANITAS will support the responsibility and opportunity Europe has to take the lead in technical innovation and policy formulation that the world needs in facing critical challenges of water quality and supply and energy requirements of wastewater management.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2013.2.2-01 | Award Amount: 11.79M | Year: 2014

Nudge-it engages internationally leading experts in the neurobiology of motivational behaviour, the neuroscience of reward pathways, the neuroendocrinology of homeostatic regulation of appetite, experimental psychology, functional brain imaging, behavioural economics, and computational modelling. They will work together to develop new tools and approaches that can provide the evidence needed to inform effective policies on healthy eating. Effort will be focussed in four areas of particular importance for policy: i) early life experience: how the choices we make as adults are influenced by stress and poor nutrition in early life. ii) habitual eating behaviour: the life-long learning process and how it is moderated by homeostatic mechanisms; iii) impulsive choice behaviour: the momentary choices we make to eat high energy or low energy foods, depending on hunger state and reward value, and upon price and availability; iv) the role of environmental context in decision-making processes: how day-to-day choices and preferences are affected by socio-economic status, stress, and mood. Development work will involve refinements of experimental approaches and tools in both human behavioural studies, neuroimaging, and translational animal studies. A focus will be on tools that provide bridges that link understanding at different levels and in different domains, and which contribute to building predictive models with strong explanatory power that can contribute to policy formulation. A powerful strategy for dissemination of outcomes to relevant groups, including by a massive open online course, will ensure impact.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE.2010.3.5-04 | Award Amount: 7.74M | Year: 2011

There is a strong need for new thermostable hydrolases with appropriate performance and/or novel functionalities that could provide huge savings in time, money and energy for industrial processes. The HotZyme project aims to identify such enzymes from hot terrestial environments, using metagenomic screening methods. New bioinfomatic tools will be developed to facilitate function prediction of genes from metagenomes that show low or no sequence homology to enzymes of known function. A range of high-throughput screening technologies will be employed to identify novel hydrolases. The consortium is composed of 13 partners from 10 European countries plus one partner from USA. The strong expertise in Microbiology, Moleculary Biology, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Geochemistry, Nanotechnology and Bioinformatics from our partners will be integrated in the project to ensure the fulfilment of the proposed tasks. Importantly, the five industrial partners, including three SMEs, will seek to commercialize the project results, thus ensuring a European wide impact, post project.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SSH.2011.1.1-1 | Award Amount: 3.59M | Year: 2012

LLLightinEurope LifeLong Learning, Innovation, Growth and Human capital Tracks in Europe Among all Europeans between 24 and 65 years old who had a tertiary educational degree in 2010, 82.8% were working. In the same age group, 68.3% who completed secondary schooling were working. Only 46% of those who did not complete secondary schooling were working. It is apparent that if Europe wants to be working, higher education is the necessary foundation for being competitive in the labor market. Since this is not only true for generations of future workers currently in school, but equally so for those who are today in their 30s, 40s and 50s, Lifelong Learning must be essential to continued employability. The cumulative investment necessary to generate higher education degrees alone for adults over the next two decades across Europe may be 3.5 trillion euros or about 1.4% of European GDP per year. Even higher investments are required in non-formal and informal Lifelong Learning. To help guide this investment, this research project will find answers to the following urgent questions: 1. How do successful enterprises actively employ Lifelong Learning for their competitive advantage? 2. Which public policy environments facilitate Lifelong Learning for such enterprises and entrepreneurs? 3. How does Lifelong Learning interact with and promote innovativeness on the enterprise level? 4. How much of which skills do European adults actually have? 5. What are the actual learning mechanisms in adult life that lead to these skills? 6. What are the causal effects of these skills on growth, competitiveness and social cohesion? The research consortium includes nine universities and research institutes from four academic disciplines macro-econometrics, innovation dynamics, educational systems, psychometrics to establish empirically proven answers. All outputs of the project (models, reports and tools) are designed to guide, support and facilitate best practice and strategy among public policy officials, enterprise strategists, individual citizens and fellow scientists.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: KBBE.2011.1.2-01 | Award Amount: 3.66M | Year: 2012

The Catch-C project assesses the farm-compatibility of Best Management Practices (BMPs) that aim to promote productivity, climate change mitigation, and soil quality. These are the three overall goals of sustainable soil management. Catch-C will first (WP2) set up a typology of the main farm types and agro-ecological zones across Europe. This frame, coupled to a pan-European database of socio-economic and biophysical data, will be used for spatially organising the information collected on current management; and for up-scaling the impacts expected from changes in management. Biophysical impacts of management practices will be assessed (WP3) primarily from a large set of current field experiments, executed by the participants. BMPs will be formulated, along with their trade-offs and synergies between productivity, climate change mitigation, and soil quality. Farmers, however, often do not adopt BMPs. Identifying the barriers against adoption, and formulating ways to remove these, are core activities of the project (WP4). Catch-C will survey farmer views on BMPs in all participant countries, assess costs and benefits of implementation, identify technical and ecological bottlenecks preventing adoption, develop a decision support tool, and prioritize innovation requirements to address bottlenecks. Policy measures can promote adoption in various ways, such as voluntary measures, regulation, and economic incentives. In interaction with policy makers, Catch-C will develop (WP5) guidelines for policies that will support the adoption of BMPs; and that are consistent with regional agro-ecological and farming contexts. Dissemination (WP6) includes scientific publication; discussing project results with farmers and policy makers; making information about BMPs and their adoption available to a wider audience; and stimulating awareness about the pros and cons of BMPs for different farm types and environments in participant countries.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-SME-AG | Phase: SME-2011-2 | Award Amount: 3.20M | Year: 2012

The aim of the ALGADISK project is to develop a modular, scalable, and automatic biofilm reactor for Algae biomass production, with low operational and installation costs. The reactor will be designed to capture CO2 from industrial emissions to produce high value organic products. In this system, algae will be grown both in an aqueous environment and on biocompatible surfaces, allowing for CO2 absorption from either the gas or liquid phase. This method will dramatically increase the efficiency of the reactor, and decrease water requirements. Automatic and continuous harvesting of algae will be designed to optimize CO2 uptake and biomass production. Adjusting the scale of the system will be trivial, as ALGADISK will have a modular design, and the installations footprint will be considerably reduced compared to technologies currently on the market. Design software will be provided which, based on user input, will suggest installation parameters, perform a cost/benefit analysis to calculate economic feasibility, and make predictions concerning the environmental sustainability of the system. The proposed system will be specifically crafted to meet the needs of European SMEs who are willing to produce algae biomass products from industrial emissions.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-ITN | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2011-ITN | Award Amount: 3.52M | Year: 2012

TRAIN-ASAP addresses a very urgent public health issue. The lack of effective antibacterial drugs against resistant bacteria poses a serious threat to human health and has huge economical consequences to the healthcare system. The objective of this ITN is to fill the current gap between the burden of infections due to resistant bacteria and the strong need for alternative solutions to combat antibiotic resistance in both humans and animals. Young researchers will be trained in the scientific and complementary skills needed to implement a broad range of antibacterial approaches including discovery of new antibiotics, synthesis of antimicrobial peptides with improved pharmacological properties, improvement of the clinical efficacy of currently known drugs, and alternative strategies based on phages and bacteriocin-producing organisms. TRAIN-ASAP is a multidisciplinary and intersectorial ITN dedicated to the scientific and professional training of 14 early-stage researchers, including 2 financed by the University of Copenhagen, with the aim to develop novel antibacterial solutions for humans and animals. The consortium includes 7 academic institutions, 9 private enterprises and 2 national research centres representing 9 countries. The training programme is characterized by a unique innovative and multidisciplinary approach based on the use of front line research tools in molecular biology, combinatorial chemistry and in vivo pharmacology, an appropriate balance between scientific and generic skills training, and a strong contribution by the private partners in the form of mentoring, courses and secondments. Considering the urgent need for new drugs to combat antibiotic resistance and the growing demand for skilled scientists specialised in antibacterial drug discovery, TRAIN-ASAP is expected to have a strong impact on the careers of the trainees and result in a lasting collaboration between the partners and political, societal and economical benefits to Europe.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: KBBE.2012.3.1-03 | Award Amount: 1.24M | Year: 2012

The FIBRA network has as main target to link the research and development activities for fibre crop innovations carried out by universities and institutions in both EU and China. This proposal is set up to promote the communication between experts about the key issues of fibre crop production, processing and application, while attention towards quality and efficiency improvement, and product diversification will result in improved markets and enhanced economic scope for sustainable fibre crop production in EU and China. The creation of opportunities for networking and cooperation between experts from different disciplines from China and EU will result in a better exchange of know-how and is expected to bring the state of the art of fibre crop utilization to a higher level on both sides. The FIBRA network is set up to optimize the information exchange on specialized topics for fibre crop productivity, and innovation. The FIBRA network is to provide the basis for common R&D activities between Chinese and European partners. The FIBRA network will provide a long term vision on future common research activities on fibre crops that will contribute to the international policies of the EU and will improve researchers training opportunities.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: KBBE-2007-3-3-02 | Award Amount: 7.36M | Year: 2008

BACSIN is a 16-member consortium with the main focus to improve rational exploitation of the catalytic properties of bacteria for the treatment and prevention of environmental pollution. Current application of bacteria in the environment is hindered by the lack of knowledge on the effects of stresses on cellular activity, most importantly abiotic stresses prevailing on site (e.g., desiccation or nutrient starvation), stresses as a result of pollution itself (e.g., toxicity), and those during strain preparation and formulation. BACSIN proposes four iterative poles of research and technology to overcome this hindrance for subsequent improved microbial usage. The 1st pole will investigate genome-wide catabolic and stress expression in a set of different pollutant degrading bacteria (the BACSINs). Key cellular factors and regulatory networks determining the interplay between stress-survival and pollutant catabolism will be unveiled, and faithful predictive models for cell behaviour produced. The 2nd pole will study stress resistance, survival and activity of BACSINs in real polluted environments, via microcosms and in situ traps, plant roots and leaves, while accentuating possible effects on native communities. The 3d pole will focus on the original microbial communities at contaminated sites, to discover and exploit more optimal stress and survival resistance among resident pollutant-degrading bacteria. We will develop molecular diagnostics tools to screen contaminated sites for catabolic and stress parameters, and decide whether BACSIN complementation should be considered. Promising isolates of resident bacteria will be studied as new BACSINs, to show the usefulness of the diagnosis-isolation-reintroduction approach for enhancing pollutant biodegradation rates. Finally, we will focus on BACSIN formulations, to understand the stresses on bacteria during growth, preservation and resuscitation, and to produce optimally active cells for environmental application.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-AG | Phase: ERC-AG-LS9 | Award Amount: 2.49M | Year: 2013

Our current society depends on many natural resources, and the availability of these natural resources (minerals, fossil fuels) is becoming more and more limited. The challenge of a sustainable and biobased economy is to develop innovative technologies to recover and reuse minerals and energy-rich compounds from waste streams and non-food agricultural crops. Microorganisms can be exploited for biotechnological purposes. The aim of this project is to study novel anaerobic microorganisms that: 1. Degrade and grow with biopolymers (polysaccharides and lipids), 2. Produce high value products (succinate and long chain fatty acids), 3. Possess a metabolism that can be steered by hydrogen and/or electricity. Microbial diversity represents an enormous reservoir of novel catalysts that can be exploited for a biobased economy. Molecular ecological research has shown that the majority (> 95 %) of the microorganisms in Nature has not yet been cultured and characterized. Their function in geochemical cycles is unknown and their biotechnological potential unexploited. This also applies for methanogenic environments in which organic matter is converted to methane and carbon dioxide, via energy rich organic intermediates. Our understanding of the microbial interactions that take place in methane formation is still scarce, especially how fermentations are influenced by hydrogen. In methanogenic environments fermentative anaerobes are present that produce valuable organic compounds, which should be exploited. Novel anaerobes can be isolated by intelligent and innovative isolation approaches, such as the MicroDish method. This method is currently adapted in my group for high throughput screening of strict anaerobes. The genomes of selected strains will be sequenced, followed by proteomics to obtain insight into their physiology to optimize the formation of valuable compounds. Such novel anaerobes will become the pillars of new biotechnological activities in Europe.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-AG | Phase: ERC-AG-ID1 | Award Amount: 2.50M | Year: 2011

From a polymer chemistry perspective, the way in which nature produces its plethora of different proteins is a miracle of precision: the synthesis of each single molecule is directed by the sequence information chemically coded in DNA. The present state of recombinant DNA technology should in principle allow us to make genes that code for entirely new, very sophisticated amino acid polymers, which are chosen and designed by man to serve as new polymer materials. It has been shown that it is indeed possible to make use of the protein biosynthetic machinery and produce such de novo protein polymers, but it is not clear what their potentials are in terms of new materials with desired functionalities. I propose to develop a new class of protein polymers, chosen such that they form nanostructured materials by triggered folding and multimolecular assembly. The plan is based on three innovative ideas: (i) each new protein polymer will be constructed from a limited set of selected amino acid sequences, called modules (hence the term modular protein polymers) (ii) new, high-yield fermentation strategies will be developed so that polymers will become available in significant quantities for evaluation and application; (iii) the design of modular protein polymers is carried out as a cyclic process in which sequence selection, construction of artificial genes, optimisation of fermentation for high yield, studying polymer folding and assembly, and modelling of the nanostructure by molecular simulation are all logically connected, allowing efficient selection of target sequences. This project is a cross-road. It brings together biotechnology and polymer science, creating a unique set of biomaterials for medical and pharmaceutical use, that can be easily extended into a manifold of biofunctional materials. Moreover, it will provide us with fresh tools and valuable insights to tackle the subtle relations between protein sequence and folding.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: MC-IEF | Phase: FP7-PEOPLE-2009-IEF | Award Amount: 215.60K | Year: 2011

The role of biodiversity for the functioning of ecosystems and the provisioning of ecosystem services is a key issue in ecology. Both in natural ecosystems and in agriculture legumes are critical for enhancing ecosystem productivity because of their ability to fix aerial nitrogen (N). Many studies have tested how non-leguminous plants may benefit from legumes, however, a main and unresolved question is whether and how legumes can benefit from growing with non-leguminous species. This question is central in my proposed research. Models predict that increased N input from legumes will feed back to suppression of legumes by non-leguminous species that are better competitors for light, which suggests that legumes will perform best in monocultures. However, field observations indicate that productivity of legume monocultures is unstable and that legumes must have an advantage of growing in mixtures with non-leguminous species. It has been suggested that interactions with soil organisms are critical in explaining why legumes persist poorly, but whether non-leguminous species can modify soil properties to the benefit of legumes remains to be tested. The aim of my proposal is to unravel how leguminous grassland species may benefit from growing with non-leguminous species through interactions with abiotic (resources) and biotic (detrimental and beneficial) soil components and whether enhancement of legumes results in increased plant community productivity and nutrient retention. My three specific study objectives are: 1. How aboveground and belowground traits of leguminous species and non-leguminous species may promote complementary use of resources 2. How non-leguminous plants may suppress root herbivores of the legumes and 3. How non-leguminous plants may promote positive effects of root mutualistic symbionts. The main benefits of the program for my career are enhanced independency, experience in cutting-edge techniques and coaching in acquiring funding.


Patent
Wageningen University and Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek | Date: 2010-05-14

Disclosed is a method for the combined synthesis of at least two vinylic monomers, at least one of which being an acrylic compound, comprising subjecting a monoconjugated alkene-1-carboxylic compound to reaction with a C_(2)-C_(4 )alkene under conditions of olefin cross-metathesis. The invention is particularly useful for extracting value from protein side streams. Upon protein hydrolysis, suitable amino acids (preferably phenylalanine or tyrosine) are subjected to reductive amination so as to form the corresponding alkene-1-carboxylic acid. Preferably after esterification and separation, this is used in cross-metathesis for the concomitant production of styrene resp. hydroxy styrene, and acrylates. The invention is applicable more widely, to the synthesis of olefins on the basis of carbohydrates, naturally occurring phenolic components, natural protein resources, or amino acids obtained from fermentations.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SEC-2012.1.5-4 | Award Amount: 4.59M | Year: 2013

Securing the food chains from primary production to consumer ready food against major deliberate, accidental or natural CBRN contaminations stands in close context with the safety of food products. SPICED objectives are to characterize the heterogeneous matrices of spices and herbs and their respective intra- as well as interplant production and supply chains in context with relevant biological and chemical hazards that can lead to major deliberate, accidental or natural contaminations in the food supply chain, to improve the knowledge about biological hazards properties and on-site and high throughput diagnostic methods for appropriate detection, to reduce (industrial) chemical adulterations and to ensure authenticity of spices and herbs by evaluation and improvement of non-targeted fingerprinting methods, and to improve alerting, reporting and decontamination systems as well as techniques to ensure prevention and response on high quality level. The consortium will evaluate the most important spices and herbs that can cause or be used for natural, accidental or deliberate contaminations, depending on e.g. the amount produced, consumed and frequency of natural or accidental contaminations. SPICED will focus on pathogen agents based on e.g. frequency of natural occurrence, possible impact on human health, and relevance for food terrorism. SPICED has been planned for 36 months and brings together experts and scientists from 11 different partners. The spice and herbs primary production and supply chain is very heterogeneous since most of the condiments are imported from non-European countries. The consortium of SPICED reflects the major players of the European spice market from major importer (Germany) over major re-exporter (Netherlands) to the main European paprika producing country (Hungary). SPICED will provide several materials for advice ranging from brochures and other