Hidden threat to health

The Gates Foundation programme brings together teams in Ethiopia, Malawi, Kenya and the UK © Rothamsted Research

One of the most ambitious programmes to provide lasting improvements in nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa begins today when a diverse multinational team of experts from agriculture to ethics start looking for ways to end dietary deficiencies in essential micronutrients.

Rothamsted Research is contributing soil and crop expertise to the programme, known as GeoNutrition, which has received a grant of £4.4 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to cover 43 months’ work in Ethiopia and Malawi, principally.

Study predicts a significantly drier world at 2ºC

Over a quarter of the world’s land could become significantly drier if global warming reaches 2ºC, according to new research from an international team including the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The change would cause an increased threat of drought and wildfires.

But limiting global warming to under 1.5ºC would dramatically reduce the fraction of the Earth’s surface that undergoes such changes.

Speed breeding technique sows seeds of new green revolution

Pioneering new technology is set to accelerate the global quest for crop improvement in a development which echoes the Green Revolution of the post war period.

The speed-breeding platform developed by teams at the John Innes Centre, University of Queensland and University of Sydney, uses a glasshouse or an artificial environment with enhanced lighting to create intense day-long regimes to speed up the search for better performing crops.

Young Plant Scientist accolade for Dundee-based researcher

A PhD student at the University of Dundee and James Hutton Institute has been selected as Young Plant Scientist 2018 in the fundamental research category by the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO).

Shumei Wang, based at the Institute’s Cell and Molecular Sciences group, has discovered a new pathway involved in infection by Phytophthora infestans, the pathogen responsible for potato late blight. Her work significantly improves the understanding of plant-pathogen interactions and may open new possibilities in the development of defence strategies.

New plant protection product approved for use in record time

UK herb growers will be able to protect their crops with a new weed control product in record time, following successful trials as part of AHDB’s £1.4m crop protection project.
To achieve this approval so quickly, the team used intelligence from other EU countries, collaborating closely with other manufacturers and growers, to ensure trials on control products fulfil market needs and are likely to gain authorisation for use.

Pregnancy test science could protect the Christmas sprout

The science behind the home-pregnancy test is now being trialled to detect the presence of diseases, which can devastate fields of vegetable crops, including the Christmas sprout.

Trials are underway to help protect crops of Brassicas – sprouts, broccoli, cabbage – and onions, which generated more than £356 million for UK agriculture last year. Diseases including ring spot, light leaf spot and downy mildew are being monitored.