International crop science experts join University of Nottingham

12 Oct 2010 12:00:00.000

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The University of Nottingham has announced the arrival of two of the world’s leading experts in crop cytogenetics, further strengthening the University’s research priority group for global food security.

Professor Ian King and Dr Julie King, who will work in the School of Biosciences, will make a crucial contribution to this research. Their work on grasses and grain crops has already led to a generation of wheat and forage grass material exhibiting resistance to a range of abiotic stresses — damage caused by non-living factors such as intense sunlight or wind.

Global food security is the challenge of ensuring that the world’s population has access to adequate amounts of safe, nutritious food to meet its needs. By 2050 the population of the planet could reach nine billion leading to a doubling in the demand for food and making the issue of food security of increasing national and international importance.

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The researchers’ ground-breaking work on chromosome introgression in monocots is an excellent example of the impact of fundamental research on plants leading to the development of better commercial varieties.

Their move from Aberystwyth University has been supported by BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) through a Memorandum of Understanding signed with The University of Nottingham earlier in the year in relation to global food security.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is the UK’s leading funding agency for academic research and training in the non-clinical life sciences (www.bbsrc.ac.uk).

The University has selected global food security to be one of 13 research priority groups whose focused research over the next five years will further contribute to the fundamental challenge of ensuring a sustainable, secure food supply worldwide.

Professor David Greenaway, the University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “The fit with Nottingham is excellent and the appointments are strategically important for both BBSRC and the University.” Ian has been appointed as a Chair in Cereal Genomics and Julie to a Lectureship in Crop Genomics from October 1 2010.

Professor Jeremy Roberts, Head of the School of Biosciences, added: “Ian’s and Julie’s global food security research targets include the development of superior high yielding wheat and grass varieties adapted to climate change and environmentally friendly agricultural practises.

“This will be achieved by the transfer of genes controlling key traits from species related to either wheat or grass via sexual hybridisation. Key traits that are being focused on include increased photosynthetic capacity, disease resistance, tolerance to abiotic stresses (e.g. heat, drought, salt tolerance) and improved water and nutrient uptake.”

The University of Nottingham has a broad research portfolio but has also identified and badged 13 research priority groups in which a concentration of expertise, collaboration and resources create significant critical mass.

Key research areas at Nottingham include energy, drug discovery, global food security, biomedical imaging, advanced manufacturing, integrating global society, operations in a digital world, and science, technology & society. Through these groups, Nottingham researchers will continue to make a major impact on global challenges.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as “the nearest Britain has to a truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 39,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news  

Facts and figures at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/about/facts/factsandfigures.aspx

Story credits

More information is available from the Head of the School of Biosciences, Professor Jerry Roberts on jeremy.roberts@nottingham.ac.uk
Harry Waddle

Harry Waddle - Students Communications Officer

Email: harry.waddle@nottingham.ac.uk Phone: +44 (0)115 823 2353 Location: University Park

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