News


Barley orders soil bacteria to manufacture ammonia fertiliser

ENSA scientists have accomplished a key step in the long-term ambition to engineer nitrogen-fixation into non-legume cereal crops by demonstrating that barley can instruct soil bacteria to convert nitrogen from the air into ammonia fertiliser. This development empowers non-legume crops to communicate directly with nitrogen-fixing bacteria and takes us a step closer to reducing our reliance on synthetic fertilisers. The world’s human population consumes more than half their calories from three crops – rice, wheat and maize. However, these crops rely heavily on the application of synthetic fertilisers like nitrogen. The industrial production of nitrogen in the form of ammonia requires a high consumption of fossil fuels and the over-application read more…

ENSA member Pierre-Marc Delaux becomes EMBO Young Investigator

While analyzing plant hormones during his PhD research in biochemistry, Pierre-Marc Delaux began to take an interest in the plants themselves and was hooked. Now, based at the Plant Science Research Laboratory in Toulouse, the new EMBO Young Investigator uses a combination of experimental and computational approaches to study plant-microbe mutualistic associations. “We want to know what molecular mechanisms are involved when a plant recruits and accommodates microbes within its cells, and why some associations have evolved in just a few groups, while others are widespread,” he explains. Delaux hopes that this knowledge can lead to novel plant products one day. Legumes, for example, associate with nitrogen fixing bacteria. “Legumes read more…

The World Economic Forum identifies self-fertilizing crops Number 2 in their TOP10 emerging technologies

Self fertilizing crops featured in the annual top ten list of breakthrough technologies with the greatest potential to impact the world positively, announced by the World Economic Forum today [17 November 2021]. From climate change to public health, technology will play a critical role in finding solutions to many of the world’s challenges. This year’s emerging technologies demonstrate the rapid pace of human innovation and offer a glimpse into what a more sustainable, healthier future could look like. “Our goal with the list is always to identify those with the greatest potential for impact, but we also want to provide a diverse and inspirational list,” said Jeremy Jurgen, Managing Director at read more…

A new speed breeding facility has been opened on Park Farm

Situated in Park farm, adjacent to the Crop Science Centre, this glasshouse has the capability to help further ENSA's goals. The facility has high specification LED grow lighting systems, a high-pressure fogging system for humidity, mechanical cooling and forced air ventilation. It is designed to enhance the speed of crop growth, and therefore speed-up crop science experiments. Half will be set for sub-tropical conditions and used to grow rice and maize, whereas the other half will be used to grow barley.

INDUSTRY-LED DOCTORAL TRAINING PARTNERSHIP FOCUSED ON SUSTAINABLE INNOVATION TO DEVELOP A NEW GENERATION OF AGRI SCIENTISTS

An industry-wide consortium, led by producer organisation G’s Growers and involving the Crop Science Centre, has won a UKRI-BBSRC collaborative training partnership award (CTP) to provide a £3.6 million postgraduate training programme in sustainable agricultural innovation. The CTP programme for Sustainable Agricultural Innovation (CTP-SAI) will ensure young scientists are ‘business aware’, opening up opportunities for careers across industry. Running from 2022 to 2028, the CTP-SAI will create a pre-competitive network in which businesses can explore and co-design research and innovation programmes and will train 30 PhD students. Ensuring the programme is inclusive and recruits a diverse range of candidates into agriculture is a priority. The CTP-SAI aims to lead the sector by example, training the next read more…

THE FIRST ENSA TRIAL HARVEST

This August will see the first ENSA trial harvest. Writing ahead of this harvest, Crop Science Centre Scientist, and harvest co-ordinator, Tom Thirkell said: “We are excited to have planted our first ENSA field trial here at the Crop Science Centre, a collaboration between NIAB and the University of Cambridge. In this trial, we are testing the effect of mycorrhizal fungi inoculants on the performance of four cultivars of spring malting barley - LG Diablo, RGT Planet, Laureate and Golden Promise. We will soon harvest the trial and assess the impact of the mycorrhizas on crop yield and grain nutrient contents. Most of our crop plants in the UK already read more…

A plant-fungi partnership at the origin of terrestrial vegetation

The first plants left aquatic life to live on land 450 million years ago, resulting in the stunning diversity of plant life seen on land today. This significant step required the ancestor of all terrestrial plants developing evolutionary innovations to adapt to the much lower levels of water and nutrients on land, as well as the direct ultraviolet radiation. New collaborative research, involving ENSA scientists, has demonstrated that this was made possible by the mutually beneficial exchange of resources between plants and fungi. Land plants fall into two main categories: vascular plants with stems and roots, and non-vascular plants such as mosses, called bryophytes. Previous studies have shown the existence read more…

Researchers discover how plants distinguish beneficial from harmful microbes

A team of plant research scientists from Aarhus University working on the global ENSA project to sustainably increase yields for small-holder farmers has made major step towards their goal to engineer nitrogen fixation in cereal crops. Legume plants know their friends from their enemies, and now we know how they do it at the molecular level. Plants recognise beneficial microbes and keep harmful ones out, which is important for healthy plants production and global food security. Published today in the journal Science, scientists have now discovered how legumes use small, well-defined motifs in receptor proteins to read molecular signals produced by both pathogenic and symbiotic microbes. These remarkable findings have read more…

Giles Oldroyd elected as a fellow of the Royal Society

Professor Giles Oldroyd has been recognised for his outstanding contributions to science in plant-microbe interactions with his election as a fellow of the Royal Society. Announced today by President of the Royal Society, Dr Venki Ramakrishnan, 51 new Fellows, 10 Foreign Members and one Honorary Fellow have been selected for their outstanding contributions to scientific understanding. Professor Oldroyd is the Russell R Geiger Professor of Crop Science and Director of the Crop Science Centre and Group Leader at the Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He leads the ENSA global collaboration studying interactions between plants and beneficial micro-organisms, both bacteria and fungi, that aid in the uptake of nutrients from the read more…

Login