Tag Archives: BBSRC

CBMNet and IBCarb awarded BBSRC International Workshop Award

BBSRC has identified industrial biotechnology and bioenergy as high-level priority areas in its Delivery Plan for 2016-2020. Supporting the BBSRC to achieve its strategic goals, this focused workshop will identify the science and technological barriers that need to be addressed in order to harness the potential of plant ‘cell factories’ for producing biopharmaceuticals. A CBMNet-driven symposium (Manchester, September 2017) brought together key players from Canada, the EU and the UK, to discuss scientific and commercial opportunities and challenges in this space. The goal now is to regroup, with a more focused set of individuals, to refine the landscape and to identify opportunities for collaborative R&D projects involving academia and industry in the UK and Canada. These aims are synergistic with those of CBMNet and IBCarb in the UK, and with the Canadian Glycomics Network, GlycoNet. Read more

Corporate Stakeholder Research report 2016

BBSRC publishes ‘Corporate Stakeholder Research report 2016’

In October 2016 the BBSRC commissioned ComRes to undertake research to gauge stakeholder perceptions of the organisation and measure any change in attitudes since 2014, when an initial wave of benchmarking research was conducted.

The overall aim of this research was twofold: to help BBSRC understand how it is perceived externally, and assess our performance since the 2014 benchmarking research.

Within this, the specific objectives were:

  • Measuring BBSRC success in increasing engagement with key stakeholders over time in delivering key objectives set out in our corporate communications and engagement strategy
  • Giving a clear picture of how key stakeholders currently view their relationships with BBSRC
  • Identifying areas where current relationships can be developed, strengthened and maintained
  • Understanding why key stakeholders want to engage with BBSRC and what deliverables they expect from us
  • Identifying areas where attitudes have shifted and understand how BBSRC activities have affected this
  • Identifying other stakeholders with which BBSRC should be better connected

You can view the results of the research here.

Naturally occurring transporter protein discovered which boosts rice yield by 50%

In collaboration with researchers at Nanjing Agricultural University, Dr Tony Miller from the John Innes Centre has developed rice crops with an improved ability to manage their own pH levels, enabling them to take up significantly more nitrogen, iron and phosphorous from soil and increase yield by up to 54%.

Rice is a major crop, feeding almost 50% of the world’s population and has retained the ability to survive in changing environmental conditions. The crop is able to thrive in flooded paddy fields – where the soggy, anaerobic conditions favour the availability of ammonium – as well as in much drier, drained soil, where increased oxygen means more nitrate is available. nitrogen fertilizer is a major cost in growing many cereal crops and its overuse has a negative environmental impact.

The nitrogen that all plants need to grow is typically available in the form of nitrate or ammonium ions in the soil, which are taken up by the plant roots. For the plant, getting the right balance of nitrate and ammonium is very important: too much ammonium and plant cells become alkaline; too much nitrate and they become acidic. Either way, upsetting the pH balance means the plant’s enzymes do not work as well, affecting plant health and crop yield.

Together with the partners in Nanjing, China, Dr Miller’s team has been working out how rice plants can maintain pH under these changing environments.

Rice contains a gene called OsNRT2.3, which creates a protein involved in nitrate transport. This one gene makes two slightly different versions of the protein: OsNRT2.3a and OsNRT2.3b. Following tests to determine the role of both versions of the protein, Dr Miller’s team found that OsNRT2.3b is able to switch nitrate transport on or off, depending on the internal pH of the plant cell.

When this ‘b’ protein was overexpressed in rice plants they were better able to buffer themselves against pH changes in their environment. This enabled them to take up much more nitrogen, as well as more iron and phosphorus. These rice plants gave a much higher yield of rice grain (up to 54% more yield), and their nitrogen use efficiency increased by up to 40%.

Dr Miller said: “Now that we know this particular protein found in rice plants can greatly increase nitrogen efficiency and yields, we can begin to produce new varieties of rice and other crops. These findings bring us a significant step closer to being able to produce more of the world’s food with a lower environmental impact.”

This new technology has been patented by PBL, the John Innes Centre’s innovation management company, and has already been licensed to three different companies to develop new varieties of six different crop species.

This study, which will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and grants from the Chinese Government.


The paper “Overexpression of a pH-sensitive nitrate transporter in rice increases crop yields” has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/06/01/1525184113.full

Full article from BBSRC http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2016/160628-pr-protein-discovered-boosts-rice-yield/


BBSRC NIBB activities update, May 2016

As of the end of March 2016, the BBSRC NIBB collectively represent approximately 2340 UK-based academic members and have engaged with around 630 companies.

This Activities update highlights upcoming Network events and showcases the most recent Proof of Concept and Business Interaction Vouchers that have been funded through the BBSRC NIBB.

To find out more about the activities of the BBSRC NIBB over the past year please view the BBSRC NIBB activities update, May 2016, which highlights funding and events.

September 2015: NIBB Activities Update

In 2013-14, BBSRC, with support from EPSRC, committed £18M to fund 13 unique collaborative Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (BBSRC NIBB). The BBSRC NIBB launched in January 2014.
The BBSRC NIBB are fostering collaborations between academia, industry, policy makers and NGOs in order to find new approaches to tackle research challenges, translate research and deliver key benefits in IBBE.

Each network has a particular focus area, mainly within the UK, but with interest to build international links. These multidisciplinary networks will drive new ideas to harness the potential of biological resources for producing and processing materials, biopharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy. The Networks provide Proof of Concept funding, Business Interaction Vouchers and are open to new members.

Up to the end of June 2015, the BBSRC NIBB collectively represent approximately 1750 UK based academic members and have engaged with 428 companies.

Read the full report here.

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