Waitrose CTP Annual Conference

By Roz Wareing

Waitrose CTP students, supervisors and board members attended the 2018 Waitrose Science Day, held at Scarman House. University of Warwick. The students battled snow and wind to attend our first annual conference event at the end of February.

On the first afternoon the students participated in a training workshop ran by colleagues from the Centre of Eco Innovation (CGE), Laura O’Keefe and Zoe Detko. Laura and Zoe are ex PhD students and currently work on the CGE project as Innovation Fellows. They discussed the benefits of an industry focused PhD, and the challenges involved with the collaboration with academia and industry. The workshop also taught the students varying methods of engagement for different audiences.

For the second and third day the students attended the sessions organised by the Waitrose Science Day. There were a range of presentations from academia presenting their area of research and the CTP projects based at their institutes. Emma Garfield from G’s delivered an excellent presentation to the potential industry partners, willing them to get involved with the CTP. Emma focussed on the huge benefits and opportunities a PhD student can provide to their host company.

The students had an opportunity to engage with our industry colleagues during evening poster reception. Each student showcased a poster about their project and delivered talks to other academics and industry.

The last morning allowed opportunities for industry and academia to discuss research interests and ideas for PhD projects. The discussion groups related to several areas of interest; Water, Soil Biodiversity, Pesticides/IPM and Protected Crops. The CTP hopes to see these ideas flourish over the next few months awaiting the next call of project proposals and we look forward to the next student training event coming up in the summer.

Climate change risk for half of plant and animal species in biodiversity hot-spots

Up to half of plant and animal species in the world’s most naturally rich areas, such as the Amazon and the Galapagos, could face local extinction by the turn of the century due to climate change if carbon emissions continue to rise unchecked.

The Amazon, Miombo Woodlands in Southern Africa, and south-west Australia are among the most affected places in the world, according to new research.

Payments to protect carbon stored in forests must increase

Efforts to protect tropical forests in Southeast Asia for the carbon they store may fail because protection payments are too low – according to University of East Anglia research.

A study published today in Nature Communications finds that schemes designed to protect tropical forests from clearance based on the carbon they store do not pay enough to compete financially with potential profits from rubber plantations.

A sunscreen for biopesticides

Scientists have taken a step forward in their efforts to tackle serious crop pests by reducing the sensitivity of biopesticides to sunlight

Insect pests consume around a third of all the crops we grow, sometimes threatening food security. The main way of controlling these pests is by spraying chemical pesticides but these can be damaging to the environment and so safer alternatives are urgently required including more effective biological pesticides.

The Battle of Resistance

By Dion Garrett (Waitrose CTP Student)

A consent battle for dominance is being fought between grower and agricultural pest every growing season. This fight has been waged ever since civilisations required food to feed the masses. It was inevitable that various pests would take advantage of this veritable feast. To fully understand how the pieces fit together, a brief introduction to the laws that underpin this conflict is necessary:

Once ridiculed and subject to much controversy, evolution is now regarded as fact due to the overwhelming evidence in its favour. It was once thought that evolution was a very slow process, taking thousands of years for changes to visibly occur. This made it extremely difficult to provide any substantial evidence to support the initial theory.

NIAB EMR-China research unlocks strawberry disease resistance

NIAB EMR, in a joint UK–China research programme, has discovered several strains of the strawberry disease Verticillium wilt (Verticillium dahliae), belonging to two different groups, that act in very different ways. The results are already being used by plant breeders in the development of a new generation of wilt resistant varieties.