Recent Activity

Signal transduction and circadian regulation under natural conditions

Dora Cano-Ramirez and Dr Antony Dodd

BCAI have supported me to travel to the laboratory of collaborator Prof. Hiroshi Kudoh at the Center for Ecological Research in Kyoto University to perform deep analysis of a cell signaling pathway under natural conditions. The reason why we conducted this work was to gain new insights into how a signaling pathway that we identified in the laboratory functions under natural conditions. This is important to begin to translate processes studied in the laboratory that underpin plant survival into an agricultural context, to identify new candidate mechanisms for enhancing crop production.

Setting off on a BCAI expedition to Kazakhstan

Hannah Rose

Ghost towns on the Kazakh steppe look as though they are centuries old, but it is an illusion. They have been sandblasted relentlessly by the force of the steppe since they were abandoned, less than 40 years ago, after the breakdown of the Soviet Union. This is one area on earth that people have largely failed to tame, but as the human population increases the country’s agricultural systems are rapidly developing and focus is turning to the steppe once again. At the same time, farmers must adapt to recent changes in climate - drier summers limit crop production and water availability, and changing patterns of snowfall and snowmelt threaten the lives of livestock. I am about to embark on a remote expedition to find out more about Kazakh agriculture and how farmers are responding to their changing landscape. Follow this blog series for updates from the field.

Since 2000, approximately 5,000,000 additional hectares of land have been sown for cropping, and approximately 2,000,000 each additional sheep, cattle, and horses are kept in Kazakhstan. This increase in livestock productivity is largely driven by smallholder farmers, who rely on livestock for up to a fifth of their family’s food. However, climate change has been felt disproportionately in Central Asia, threatening food security. National Geographic recently reported [link to URL:] that over half a million animals failed to survive the winter in neighbouring Mongolia due to a combination of lethal winter conditions and poor summer crop growth, so I’m anxious to see how the Kazakhs fared.

I’m told that in the Ural region in Western Kazakhstan, wheat production, livestock, and wildlife exist in close contact and that this is the best place to start my research. I’m set to fly to Astana tomorrow to join colleagues from the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK) on the three-day, 2,000km journey to the far west. With the help of ACBK and Bristol PhD student Munib Khanyari, I will interview farmers spread out over an area the size of England, skirting along the Russian border and the Caspian Sea. I’ll spend my evening's wild camping off-grid under the stars for 2-3 weeks. There will be no fresh water, no toilets, and no internet - the team and I have to carry everything we need in order to survive the duration. Wish me luck! 

NOTES: This expedition has been kindly funded by the Bristol Centre for Agricultural Innovation.

Gene Editing Workshop

Beth Eldridge and Ashley Pridgeon

Over the 26-27th March, researchers from around the globe gathered at the University of Bristol for the GARNet Plant Gene Editing workshop, sponsored by BCAI and the New Phytologist Trust. At this workshop, attendees eagerly discussed topics relating to gene editing; these discussions not only encompassed the nitty-gritty details of how to edit stubborn plants (monocots and dicots alike!) but also novel uses of genetically-modified plants and the policies concerning their regulation. Alongside these discussions, researchers got the opportunity to view an array of scientific posters that sparked fruitful conversations.

Read the full article here.

PI         Title     Date RequestedAmount
Dr Heather Whitney Bee Friendly Photonics June 2018 £44,913
Professor Kerry Franklin Controlling plant architecture in canopy shade June 2018 £14,212
Dr Antony Dodd Manipulating of chloroplast transcriptions to enhance horticulture June 2018 £46,633
Professor Keith Edwards Understanding & archiving the genetic diversity of long ashton research station cider apples June 2018 £11,338
Dr Tom Oliver Understanding the Influence of Carbon Nanoparticles in Enhancing Crop Yield June 2018 £25,559
Miss Dora Cano-Ramirez Signal transduction and circadian regulation under natural conditions April 2018 £2,500
Professor Nicholas Roberts, Dr Lauren Sumner-Rooney Lights Out: How anthropogenic light pollution affects the migration of crop pests April 2018 £38,932.41
Dr Andy Bailey Upgrade to LCMS facilities to support discovery of novel crop protection agents February 2018 £19,040
Dr Jon Bridle  Roots and shoots: Genetic variation & plasticity in root investment and its consequences for shoot growth along an elevational and soil type gradient February 2018 £14,500
Professor Jane Memmott Ecosystem service provision in upland farming systems February 2018 £9,860
Dr Anthony Dodd, Professor Gary Foster, Professor Keith Edwards

Bristol Plant Sciences Facilitator - Funding renewal

February 2018 £57,025
Christos Ioannou

Automated monitoring of fish from video in aquaculture systems

February 2018 £10,011.85
Dr Sally Hobson

Upgrade of PC and software controlling the Life Sciences Confocal Scanning Microscope

October 2017 £4,500
Professor Keith Edwards A genome editing facility for the School of Biological Sciences October 2017 £93,382
Professor Gareth Jones Effective pollination of farmed tequila plants October 2017 £7,000
Dr Hannah Rose

Agricultural production on the Asian steppe: limitations to sustainable intensifi-cation

October 2017 £9,025
Dr Jill Harrison Emergency Autoclave bid April 2017 £21,740.40
Dr Antony Dodd, Dr Heather Whitney and Professor Alistair Hetherington Emergency repair to the infra-red gas analyser in Wolfson Photosynthesis Suite April 2017 £2,700
Dr Helen Harper Plant and Agricultural Sciences Fellowship Day April 2017 £4,620
Dr Katherine Baldock Improving lawns and grassland for insect pollinators April 2017 £5,570
Professor Gary Foster and  Dr Andy Bailey Biocontrol of Armillaria - PhD Studentship with RHS spread over 3 years April 2017 £43,251
Mr Tom Pitman Replacement of 2 Purite units in GroDome and OPH greenhouses April 2017 £5,540
Professor Alistair Hetherington Mitigating the effects of anthropogenic increases in atmospheric CO2 on wheat grain Fe and Zn by increasing stomatal transpiration December 2016 £8,900
Dr Heather Whitney Plant and Crop Phenomics Facility Pilot December 2016 £28,051
Professor Jane Memmott Barcoding parasitoids in agricultural grasslands December 2016 £9,566
Dr Sacha Przewieslik-Allen Monogram 2017 contribution to Annual Workshop December 2016 £5,000
Professor Keith Edwards Creation of a transcription factor library of genome edited wheat plants December 2016 £9,750
Mr Anthony Crawford and Mr Tom Pitman  Contingency plan in the event of a catastrophic heating failure in the LSB GroDome December 2016 £1,500
Mr Anthony Crawford Replacement of -80 freezers for LSB December 2016 £8,000
Professor Keith Edwards Equipment that will enhance the Facilities capacity to undertake large genomics-based projects December 2016 £10,000
Mr Donald Fraser Innovations in Plant Science to Feed a Changing World December 2016 £4,881
Dr Katherine Baldock & Dr Gregory Sutton Understanding the effect of power lines on local plants and pollinators December 2016


Dr Marian Yallop & Dr Gary Barker Solutions to Taste and Odour Problems in UK Drinking Waters (STOP) November 2016 £10,642

Past BCAI Activity

You can find all of the past projects that BCAI have supported here (PDF, 342kB)

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