BBSRC Core Strategic Programme in Resilient Crops: Miscanthus

Lead Research Organisation: Aberystwyth University
Department Name: IBERS

Abstract

The UK is committed to an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 as a result of the Climate Change Act (2008). Plants have been recognised as playing a pivotal role in helping to achieve such a target and the Energy Technologies Institute have estimated that the costs of the UK energy system would be up to £44 billion higher per year without bioenergy. Miscanthus belongs to a unique group of grasses which exhibit C4 photosynthesis and are capable of both extremely high yields and extreme environmental stress tolerance. Miscanthus has the highest output to input energy ratio for biomass production of any plant species because of its highly efficient photosynthesis and nutrient recycling; and is therefore an ideal feedstock for industrial biotechnology and bioenergy. The aim of our project is to gain detailed mechanistic understanding of the biological traits that underpin the development of climate proof Miscanthus crops, resilient to environmental stresses. Collectively, detailed understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms associated with domestication, biomass yield productivity and stress tolerance, will allow us to accelerate domestication and define future Miscanthus ideotypes for different UK environments and end-uses.

Domestication: The increased need for climate proof crops is driving a need for integration of diversity into existing crops and the novel domestication of plant species. Miscanthus is an outcrossing perennial genus, with high performing genotypes being the result of wide hybridisation and often polyploidisation. In Miscanthus we will therefore study the very early processes of domestication and the consequences of different genomes coming together, including the role of epigenetics and heterosis.
Biomass yield components: Miscanthus exhibits a number of characteristics which combine to result in high biomass productivity. We will focus on understanding the genetic and physiological control of early season growth and late season senescence contributing to the high radiation use efficiency. Building on multi-year field phenotyping of 1000 plants and genotyping-by-sequencing), we will identify quantitative trait loci and genes associated with key traits. Exemplar plants will be used in controlled environment experiments to determine the base temperature for growth, and its effect on bud morphology, metabolites and transcripts.
Stress tolerance and environmental change: Resilience requires plants and crops to be tolerant to multiple stresses at different life stages, and Miscanthus as a long season perennial is an excellent system in which to study tolerance to multiple stresses, e.g. summer drought followed by winter waterlogging, and the epigenetic memory of stress exposure. We will compare photosynthetic performance of parents and hybrids under temperature, water and nutrient stresses.
Defining of energy crop ideotypes: Successful ideotypes, identified using data from the science described above, will be used to update an existing process model. The model will be used to test for resilience under different climate scenarios and to understand the potential sensitivities attributable to different traits within the ideotype.

Publications

10 25 50

publication icon
Bhatia R (2017) Genetic engineering of grass cell wall polysaccharides for biorefining. in Plant biotechnology journal

 
Description The overall aim of our project is to gain detailed mechanistic understanding of the biological traits that underpin the development of climate proof Miscanthus crops, resilient to environmental stresses. The three main inter-related research questions we have are:
1. What are the genetic features underpinning early domestication processes in Miscanthus?
2. What are the genetic and physiological mechanisms that control early season growth and late season senescence?
3. What are the molecular and physiological mechanisms that can make Miscanthus resilient to different environmental stresses (drought, flooding, temperature, nutrient limitation)?
The project is ongoing and we are making progress as described below:
1. Genetic features underpinning early domestication in Miscanthus. IBERS has collected wild germplasm for crop improvement and trait characterisation (Huang et al., 2018). We have gained greater understanding of the role of carbohydrate mobilisation in a rhizomatous perennial grass (Madison et al., 2017) and also how this can be used to predict future yield performance and enhance Miscanthus as a more sustainable alternative to maize and other feedstocks in fermentation systems (Purdy et al., 2017; Adams et al., 2018; Mangold et al., 2019). The availability of a sequenced and annotated genome is important for the understanding of domestication traits in Miscanthus and comparative genomics with other C4 grasses, and we are working with colleagues at the Earlham Institute and in the US (JGI, Hudson Alpha and University of Illinois) on the publication of the Miscanthus genome from sequencing projects in the US and UK on M. sinensis and M. sacchariflorus, respectively. The deployment of seed-based hybrids of Miscanthus also requires new agronomies, including to minimise greenhouse gas emissions when changing land use and compared to rhizome propagation, and these have also been developed.
2. Genetic and physiological mechanisms that control early season growth and late season senescence? We have gained greater understanding of the role of flowering, senescence and over-wintering on biomass quality in Miscanthus (Jensen et al., 2017). We have identified new paradigms for seasonal development in perennials including a metabolic ceiling to yield revealed by observations of diverse growth trajectories (Robson et al., 2019). In particular, we are now studying potential yield ceilings, and how these can be overcome by exploiting the significant genetic diversity we have assembled to study stem elongation rates in genotypes of differing growth durations. Using genetic relationships between biomass yield and its component traits we have successfully increased the accuracy of genomic prediction in Miscanthus (Davey et al., 2017; Slavov et al., 2019). We are currently working on the identification and elucidation of flowering time QTL in Miscanthus, and on improving genetic predictions in a large population (approx. 1000 genotypes) of parents and hybrids including in collaboration with NIAB.
3. We have established diverse Miscanthus accessions at the four sites across the altitudinal gradient from 70-340 m. In earlier work we characterised the impact of drought on growth and biomass quality in selected genotypes (van der Weijde et al., 2017; Stavridou et al., 2019) and this has been followed up in more genotypes and under more controlled conditions in the CSPG. The ability to grow Miscanthus on marginal, including contaminated, land reduces conflict with food production. We have investigated the potential for Miscanthus on soils contaminated with heavy metals (Krzyzak et al., 2017; Rusionowski et al., accepted for publication in Environmental Pollution) or coal spoil (Jezowski et al., 2017). Recent work has expanded to include additional sites and the role of microbial inoculation, with and without abiotic and nutritional stress; genes and pathways regulated by different plant-bacterial interactions have been identified using RNAseq. We have also investigated the role of land use transitions involving Miscanthus on the environment and reported new work on the impact on hydrology (Holder et al., 2018), soil carbon (Holder et al., 2019) and nitrous oxide emissions (McCalmont et al., 2018; Holder et al., 2018), with ongoing work on drought and flooding. The Soil-Plant-atmosphere (SPA) facility has been upgraded with independent feed-back watering control on every plant for 2019 experiments. Water potentials under severe drought have been observed that were 3x the standard wilt point in grasses, from which the plants are able to make a full recovery, and 50% yield improvement has been recorded under low water supply in a new hybrid relative to the control (M. x giganteus). The underlying biology by which plants are able to be both resilient and productive is being investigated.
Exploitation Route Collectively, detailed understanding of the cellular and molecular mechanisms associated with domestication, biomass productivity and stress tolerance, will allow us to accelerate domestication and define future Miscanthus ideotypes for different UK environments and end-uses. IBERS has built up the most comprehensive collection of Miscanthus outside of Asia, and is using this to develop new seed and rhizome based hybrids which are being trialled at UK farm sites by Terravesta Ltd. In November 2018, we (IBERS, Aberystwyth University) have submitted for Plant Variety Protection of our first four Miscanthus varieties (Artemis, Atropos, Astraea and Aphrodite) based on the results of trialling; in 2019 a further four Miscanthus varieties were submitted for protection..
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

 
Description A primary objective of the CSP is to increase our knowledge of key traits in energy crops, particularly those related to resilience and its links to yield, quality, and sustainability. We have developed models clarifying the genetic associations between spring emergence, consequent canopy phenology and dry biomass yield. The timing of emergence was a moderately strong predictor of early-season elongation growth (genetic correlation >0.5), but less so for growth later in the season and for the final yield (genetic correlation <0.1). In contrast, early-season canopy height was consistently more informative than emergence for predicting biomass yield across datasets for two species in Miscanthus and two growing seasons. We used the associations uncovered through these models to develop selection indices that are expected to increase the response to selection for yield by as much as 21% and improve the performance of genome-wide prediction by an order of magnitude. This multivariate approach could have an immediate impact in operational breeding programmes, as well as enable the integration of crop growth models and genome-wide prediction. Having produced seed from promising parents in climate-controlled glasshouses in the UK, based on BBSRC funded science on flowering time control, parent plants have been grown in crossing blocks in Southern Europe. These hybrids were licenced to Terravesta Ltd in 2019 who will use the most promising hybrids for the first commercial roll out starting in 2020 based on CSPG agronomic science (Ashman et al., 2018; Awty-Carroll et al., 2018). A number of these hybrids are also being trialled in other locations in Europe funded by the EU H2020 GRACE project, where Terravesta and IBERS are partners. In GRACE, hybrids are being grown on marginal and degraded land in six countries across the EU. In November 2018, we (IBERS, Aberystwyth University) have submitted for Plant Variety Protection of our first four Miscanthus varieties (Artemis, Atropos, Astraea and Aphrodite) based on the results of recent trialling; and in. November 2019, a further four Miscanthus varieties were submitted for protection. This now means that our Miscanthus science has a route to market through a crop improvement pipeline to benefit UK farmers and be exported internationally.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description A low carbon pathway for Wales
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Engagement with Welsh Government and BEIS, in both Cardiff and London, on the Bioeconomy and the potential for Wales to develop it's own strategy that complements the UK Bioeconomy Strategy
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Engagement with policymakers in Welsh Government on soils and land use post-Brexit in Wales. Engagement was on sharing and integration of information and datasets to improve future recommendations.
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Greenhouse gas removal: September 2018
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact through addressing the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gases that are driving climate change
URL http://royalsociety.org/greenhouse-gas-removal
 
Description Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK: 23 Jan 2020
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact More biomass production would contribute to low carbon economy and reductions in erosion and nutrient losses.
URL https://www.theccc.org.uk/
 
Description Member of Net Zero Science Advisory Panel for NFU.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Membership of Expert Advisory Group on "Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK" for Committee of Climate Change
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Land-use-Policies-for-a-Net-Zero-UK.pdf
 
Description Membership of Expert Advisory Group on bioenergy for Committee of Climate Change
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact The Biomass in a Low Carbon Economy report was used by and cited in the main CCC Net Zero report. The Net Zero report has resulted in the UK making its commitment to achieve Net Zero GHG emissions by 2050 which included secondary legislation to the 2008 Climate Change Act.
URL https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Biomass-in-a-low-carbon-economy-CCC-2018.pdf
 
Description Net Zero - The UK's contribution to stopping global warming: 2 May 2019
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact We were interviewed by CCC to provide information on opportunity for biomass / bioenergy / bioeconomy resulting from our work on hybrid Miscanthus.
URL https://www.theccc.org.uk/publicationtype/0-report/
 
Description Next steps for employability in Wales: skills development, the new 'Economic Contract' and preparing for the future
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL https://www.policyforumforwales.co.uk/publication/employability-PFW-18
 
Description Participation in The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry on Agriculture achieving net-zero emissions - IBERS
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Participation in The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry on Agriculture achieving net-zero emissions - Supergen Bioenergy Hub submission
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Participation in UKRI Research Infrastructure Consultation including on Cross Cutting Themes
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Steps to scaling up UK sustainable bioenergy supply a workshop held by the Centre of Ecology & Hydrology in London on behalf of the Climate Change Committee to support their report on the role of Biomass in a low-carbon economy.
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/steps-to-scaling-up-uk-sustainable-bioenergy-supply-ceh/
 
Description Support for Welsh farming after Brexit
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description The MacKay Carbon Calculator, expert consultation to follow up on BEIS work with the Energy Systems Catapult and Cambridge Architectural Research to develop the new model and its lever plan
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Adding value to uplands agriculture and biomass waste through processing into products for horticulture.
Amount £52,885 (GBP)
Organisation European Social Fund (Welsh Government/ EU) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 03/2021
 
Description BEACON+ Biorefing Centre East Wales funded through ERDF via Welsh European Funding Office
Amount £443,888 (GBP)
Funding ID 82163 
Organisation Welsh Assembly 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2021
 
Description BEACON+ Biorefing Centre West Wales & the Valleys Extension funded through ERDF via Welsh European Funding Office
Amount £3,782,889 (GBP)
Funding ID 80851 
Organisation Welsh Assembly 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2019 
End 12/2021
 
Description Bioreactor system for Industrial Biotechnology process development
Amount £389,401 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/R000700/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2017 
End 08/2020
 
Description GCRF Preserving, Restoring and Managing Colombian Biodiversity Through Responsible Innovation
Amount £5,332,079 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/P028098/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 12/2021
 
Description Genetic tools in Brachypodium distachyon to identify genes regulating bioenergy relevant traits in grasses
Amount $0 (USD)
Organisation U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute 
Sector Public
Country United States
Start 09/2019 
 
Description Horizon 2020 BBI; Growing advanced industrial crops on marginal lands for biorefineries (GRACE)
Amount € 15,000,851 (EUR)
Funding ID 745012 
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 06/2017 
End 05/2022
 
Description KESS2
Amount £52,885 (GBP)
Organisation European Social Fund (Welsh Government/ EU) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2018 
End 12/2021
 
Description NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowships
Amount £9,990 (GBP)
Funding ID R39GO1/CC8004/RFS008 
Organisation Welsh Assembly 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2018 
 
Description Optimising the diversity and resilience of grasses for use in urban environments.
Amount £25,305 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/R021325/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2018 
End 06/2020
 
Description Rural Development Plan; Plan Torri Tir Newydd
Amount £295,284 (GBP)
Organisation Government of Wales 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 11/2019
 
Description Separation and purification of organic condensate output streams from superheated steam torrefaction of forestry and agricultural residues
Amount £19,902 (GBP)
Funding ID BB1150A-BIV-T 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 09/2018
 
Description Supergen Bioenergy Hub
Amount £4,999,507 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/J017302/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2018 
End 10/2022
 
Description Three C: Creating and Sustaining Charcoal value chains to promote a circular carbon economy
Amount € 3,370,170 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 01/2020 
End 12/2022
 
Title Altitudinal gradient research platform for resilient crops at Pwllpeiran and Trawscoed experimental sites 
Description The research tool comprises an altitudinal gradient for crop research on resilience at Trawscoed and Pwllpeiran experimental sites, both associated with Aberystwyth University farms (leased from BBSRC and Welsh Government, respectively). Four fields were identified at 70 m, 150 m, 230 m and 340 m, and meteorological stations installed. Crops (forage grasses, clover, Miscanthus and oats) were planted from 2017 onward. The development of such a research platform will enable a greater understanding of crop biology across multiple real world challenging environments relevant to UK agriculture. The lowest site at Trawscoed (70 m) is optimal for the growth of forage and energy crops, and next to the Met Office weather station for which we have long term climate data. The other three sites are more marginal and provide increasingly challenging growing conditions. These sites are in addition to existing more lowland experimental sites at Gogerddan and Morfa Mawr, which are both predominantly at elevations of 10-50 m, and UK and European field trials used by the breeding programmes. We have carried out preliminary soil analyses and all the soils are a sandy or silt clay loam, with the 340 m site having the lowest N and P but highest C content. Such an upland and marginal site platform allows us to address the need to make genetic improvements in our crops for resilience to environment variation and extreme weather in multiple UK relevant environments. To further understand the environmental conditions, the sites will be instrumented for detailed measurements of microclimate and soil volumetric water, and we will model plant available water and water balances for both excess and insufficient water. Given that many forage and energy crops are perennial and that conditions vary significantly from one year to the next, we believe this platform to provide an important capability for own own research and in addition in collaboration. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact No impacts yet, but experiments have been started and weather, soil and crop data collected. 
 
Title Miscanthus endophytic bacteria collection 
Description Collection of bacterial strains isolated from Miscanthus tissues 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Published 2017. In use in on-going research. 
URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcbb.12364/pdf
 
Title Photoperiod and temperature controlled glasshouses equipped for induction of flowering used in breeding 
Description The MUST project continues the development of our Photoperiod and temperature controlled glasshouses equipped for induction of flowering used in breeding, transitioning from SON-T lamps to LED lighting systems. 
Type Of Material Physiological assessment or outcome measure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Reduction in the costs of Miscanthus breeding and seed production in the UK 
 
Title Soil-Plant-Atmosphere (SPA) facility 
Description The Soil-Plant-Atmosphere (SPA) facility acts as a half way house between the BBSRC National Plant Phenomics Centre and the field. Plants are gown in large volumes of soil in an open sided polytunnel with a sophisticated irrigation and monitoring system including to measure photosynthesis that allows large plants to be monitored for an entire year under different levels of water input. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The facility has generated two years of data and is still being improved. It is expected that publications will be written soon and once optimised would be available for use in collaborations including in association with the National Plant Phenomics Centre. 
 
Title MSCAN/PHYSIS 
Description A SQL database (MSCAN) was developed to help track data from the large genotypic collection in a previous DEFRA/LINK grant. This database has continued to be utilised and developed through support of the current award which contributes to guiding new developments of the database and contributes data to ensure the database contains all sources of data for each genotype contained. The architecture of the database has been extended by a commercial partner in to a commercial database called Physis. The database is being developed further using Amazon's web service and flexible Apps particularly suited to in field phenotyping of traits. This database Physis, and the app Physis Collect are being used to collect, manage and analyse data from about 12 trials in the ongoing projects including the BBI GRACE project. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Applications for Physis are being developed beyond its original application as developed for Miscanthus and the system is being introduced to others in the form of a general database for managing crop data. 
URL http://www.physisdata.com/
 
Title MiscanFor: A crop production model where Astley Hastings is the lead developer. 
Description MiscanFor (2009 to current day) is a crop model for projecting Miscanthus yield temporally and spatially using GXE data. MiscanFor has its roots in MISCAMOD (2004). 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Year Produced 2009 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact It's an ongoing development led by my colleague Astley Hastings in Aberdeen 
 
Description BioPilots UK - The Alliance of Open Access Biorefining Centres 
Organisation Centre for Process Innovation (CPI)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution BioPilotsUK is a collaboration created by four established biorefining open-access centres who recognise the importance of partnerships to develop UK bio-based value chains. BioPilots helps to de-risk the commercialisation of bio-based products and processes by trialling new technologies to ensure partners are investing in the right technologies for their business. BioPilotsUK combines the UK's leading expertise and facilities to help businesses develop and scale-up new sustainable processes to commercialise products from biomass, including: plants, algae, by-products and wastes. Due to the varied nature of the raw materials, or feedstocks, there is no one size fits all approach, rather a series of technologies that must be trialled and combined to maximise the opportunity. Together, the BioPilotsUK centres offers the key components required to accelerate and de-risk bio-based projects, through access to: 1) highly-qualified specialists in genetic analysis, industrial biotechnology, green chemistry and chemical engineering; 2) a broad range of discovery to demonstration scale technologies to convert biomass into useful products; and 3) the accompanying analytical services and market awareness to assess viability of an idea. Aberystwyth is contributing to BioPilots through a range of facilities and expertise including the scaling up from the laboratory to pilot facilities using a range of feedstocks including grasses, and biobased waste streams.
Collaborator Contribution BioPilotsUK offers a joined up, efficient, easy-access route to business support services to complement the four centres' technical capabilities. The services support the growth of supply chains within a high-value bioeconomy and represent a selection of services that partners can deliver. Centres within BioPilotsUK have process modelling teams, that can apply a number of commercially available software tools to fully understand and improve processes. Process modelling enables efficiency and the results can be used to predict hard to measure parameters, as well as cost estimation of process equipment. This knowledge complements scale-down models and identifies critical equipment design issues, saving time, effort and money prior to scaling up process. BioPilotsUK can support commercial and investment decisions by providing technical due diligence and IP landscaping services. It can provide in-depth techno-economic assessments, enabling the implementation of suitable technology development programmes and identification of value-adding technology partnerships.
Impact This is a new venture and impacts of BioPilots as an entity are still under development however the individual partners are involved in many hundreds of collaborative R&D projects with industry.
Start Year 2016
 
Description BioPilots UK - The Alliance of Open Access Biorefining Centres 
Organisation IBioIC
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution BioPilotsUK is a collaboration created by four established biorefining open-access centres who recognise the importance of partnerships to develop UK bio-based value chains. BioPilots helps to de-risk the commercialisation of bio-based products and processes by trialling new technologies to ensure partners are investing in the right technologies for their business. BioPilotsUK combines the UK's leading expertise and facilities to help businesses develop and scale-up new sustainable processes to commercialise products from biomass, including: plants, algae, by-products and wastes. Due to the varied nature of the raw materials, or feedstocks, there is no one size fits all approach, rather a series of technologies that must be trialled and combined to maximise the opportunity. Together, the BioPilotsUK centres offers the key components required to accelerate and de-risk bio-based projects, through access to: 1) highly-qualified specialists in genetic analysis, industrial biotechnology, green chemistry and chemical engineering; 2) a broad range of discovery to demonstration scale technologies to convert biomass into useful products; and 3) the accompanying analytical services and market awareness to assess viability of an idea. Aberystwyth is contributing to BioPilots through a range of facilities and expertise including the scaling up from the laboratory to pilot facilities using a range of feedstocks including grasses, and biobased waste streams.
Collaborator Contribution BioPilotsUK offers a joined up, efficient, easy-access route to business support services to complement the four centres' technical capabilities. The services support the growth of supply chains within a high-value bioeconomy and represent a selection of services that partners can deliver. Centres within BioPilotsUK have process modelling teams, that can apply a number of commercially available software tools to fully understand and improve processes. Process modelling enables efficiency and the results can be used to predict hard to measure parameters, as well as cost estimation of process equipment. This knowledge complements scale-down models and identifies critical equipment design issues, saving time, effort and money prior to scaling up process. BioPilotsUK can support commercial and investment decisions by providing technical due diligence and IP landscaping services. It can provide in-depth techno-economic assessments, enabling the implementation of suitable technology development programmes and identification of value-adding technology partnerships.
Impact This is a new venture and impacts of BioPilots as an entity are still under development however the individual partners are involved in many hundreds of collaborative R&D projects with industry.
Start Year 2016
 
Description BioPilots UK - The Alliance of Open Access Biorefining Centres 
Organisation University of York
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution BioPilotsUK is a collaboration created by four established biorefining open-access centres who recognise the importance of partnerships to develop UK bio-based value chains. BioPilots helps to de-risk the commercialisation of bio-based products and processes by trialling new technologies to ensure partners are investing in the right technologies for their business. BioPilotsUK combines the UK's leading expertise and facilities to help businesses develop and scale-up new sustainable processes to commercialise products from biomass, including: plants, algae, by-products and wastes. Due to the varied nature of the raw materials, or feedstocks, there is no one size fits all approach, rather a series of technologies that must be trialled and combined to maximise the opportunity. Together, the BioPilotsUK centres offers the key components required to accelerate and de-risk bio-based projects, through access to: 1) highly-qualified specialists in genetic analysis, industrial biotechnology, green chemistry and chemical engineering; 2) a broad range of discovery to demonstration scale technologies to convert biomass into useful products; and 3) the accompanying analytical services and market awareness to assess viability of an idea. Aberystwyth is contributing to BioPilots through a range of facilities and expertise including the scaling up from the laboratory to pilot facilities using a range of feedstocks including grasses, and biobased waste streams.
Collaborator Contribution BioPilotsUK offers a joined up, efficient, easy-access route to business support services to complement the four centres' technical capabilities. The services support the growth of supply chains within a high-value bioeconomy and represent a selection of services that partners can deliver. Centres within BioPilotsUK have process modelling teams, that can apply a number of commercially available software tools to fully understand and improve processes. Process modelling enables efficiency and the results can be used to predict hard to measure parameters, as well as cost estimation of process equipment. This knowledge complements scale-down models and identifies critical equipment design issues, saving time, effort and money prior to scaling up process. BioPilotsUK can support commercial and investment decisions by providing technical due diligence and IP landscaping services. It can provide in-depth techno-economic assessments, enabling the implementation of suitable technology development programmes and identification of value-adding technology partnerships.
Impact This is a new venture and impacts of BioPilots as an entity are still under development however the individual partners are involved in many hundreds of collaborative R&D projects with industry.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Bioinformatics for crop genomics and breeding 
Organisation University of Western Australia
Country Australia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Data from field and phenomics and expertise on crop modelling and plant breeding.
Collaborator Contribution Expertise on crop bioinformatics and data integration.
Impact Work under progress on integration of bioinformatics for crop science and plant breeding.
Start Year 2014
 
Description CAT - Seed production 
Organisation University of Catania
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are working together with UNICT and Terravesta Ltd. in MUST to develop seed production techniques.
Collaborator Contribution While the MUST project an annual contribution of 10k euro to the direct costs at UNICT, annual support for field programme is more like 20k euro, which is an in kind benefit for the MUST project.
Impact See publications: Co-authors Cosentino, D, Scordia, G and Scalici, G.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration on resilience and drought tolerance in grasses in urban environments 
Organisation National Taiwan University
Country Taiwan, Province of China 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This project brings together grassland scientists, architects and landscape architects to increase the resilience of green infrastructures in the built environment in the UK and in Asia. The IBERS research team brings expertise on grass and legume resilience biology including phenomics and modelling.
Collaborator Contribution The National Taiwan University bring expertise on the benefiit of green and blue infrastructures in the built environment.
Impact This is a new collaboration which seeks to link groups, in the UK and Taiwan, on grass and legume genetics, phenomics and breeding, green infrastructures, landscape ecology and biodiversity, and innovation to tackle the global challenges of urbanisation and climate change through the use of nature-based solutions. Currently we are working on the use of grasses in a phytostabilisation project to reduce negative environmental impacts.
Start Year 2018
 
Description IGPPP Moldova- GXE trialling 
Organisation Institute of Genetics, Physiology and Plant Protection
Country Moldova, Republic of 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We hosted and trained a scientist from IGPPP in UK (Lincoln and Aberystwyth) in Jan - Feb 2018/9.
Collaborator Contribution IGPPP are hosting 2 hectares of some of the most advanced Miscanthus seed based hybrids, including those recently added to those registered with the European Central Plant Variety Office.
Impact A. Sandu and V. Botnari are co-authors of 2 listed publications.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Miscanthus genome 
Organisation Earlham Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Miscanthus sacchariflorus genome sequence, Miscanthus RNAseq data
Collaborator Contribution Miscanthus sinensis genome sequence (https://phytozome.jgi.doe.gov/pz/portal.html#!info?alias=Org_Msinensis_er), Miscanthus RNAseq data, Miscanthus molecular markers
Impact Publication in preparation
Start Year 2014
 
Description Miscanthus genome 
Organisation HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
Country United States 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Miscanthus sacchariflorus genome sequence, Miscanthus RNAseq data
Collaborator Contribution Miscanthus sinensis genome sequence (https://phytozome.jgi.doe.gov/pz/portal.html#!info?alias=Org_Msinensis_er), Miscanthus RNAseq data, Miscanthus molecular markers
Impact Publication in preparation
Start Year 2014
 
Description Miscanthus genome 
Organisation Teagasc
Country Ireland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Miscanthus sacchariflorus genome sequence, Miscanthus RNAseq data
Collaborator Contribution Miscanthus sinensis genome sequence (https://phytozome.jgi.doe.gov/pz/portal.html#!info?alias=Org_Msinensis_er), Miscanthus RNAseq data, Miscanthus molecular markers
Impact Publication in preparation
Start Year 2014
 
Description Miscanthus genome 
Organisation U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Miscanthus sacchariflorus genome sequence, Miscanthus RNAseq data
Collaborator Contribution Miscanthus sinensis genome sequence (https://phytozome.jgi.doe.gov/pz/portal.html#!info?alias=Org_Msinensis_er), Miscanthus RNAseq data, Miscanthus molecular markers
Impact Publication in preparation
Start Year 2014
 
Description Miscanthus genome 
Organisation University of California, Berkeley
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Miscanthus sacchariflorus genome sequence, Miscanthus RNAseq data
Collaborator Contribution Miscanthus sinensis genome sequence (https://phytozome.jgi.doe.gov/pz/portal.html#!info?alias=Org_Msinensis_er), Miscanthus RNAseq data, Miscanthus molecular markers
Impact Publication in preparation
Start Year 2014
 
Description Miscanthus genome 
Organisation University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Miscanthus sacchariflorus genome sequence, Miscanthus RNAseq data
Collaborator Contribution Miscanthus sinensis genome sequence (https://phytozome.jgi.doe.gov/pz/portal.html#!info?alias=Org_Msinensis_er), Miscanthus RNAseq data, Miscanthus molecular markers
Impact Publication in preparation
Start Year 2014
 
Description Miscanthus new hybrid rapid evaluation 
Organisation Julius Kuhn Institute
Country Germany 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Provision of new genetic material and agronomy
Collaborator Contribution Locations for evaluation, drought and water use, tissue culture
Impact Clifton-Brown J, Hastings A, Mos M, McCalmont JP, Ashman C, Awty-Carroll D, Cerazy J, Chiang Y-C, Cosentino S, Cracroft-Eley W, Scurlock J, Donnison IS, Glover C, Golab I, Greef JM, Gwyn J, Harding G, Hayes C, Helios W, Hsu T-W, Huang LS, Jezowski S, Kim D-S, Kiesel A, Kotecki A, Krzyzak J, Lewandowski I, Lim SH, Liu J, Loosely M, Meyer H, Murphy-Bokern D, Nelson W, Pogrzeba M, Robinson G, Robson P, Rogers C, Scalici G, Schuele H, Shafiei R, Shevchuk O, Schwarz K-U, Squance M, Swaller T, Thornton J, Truckses T, Botnari V, Vizi, I, Wagner M, Warren R, Webster R, Yamada T, Youell S, Xi Q, Zong J, Flavell R. Progress in upscaling Miscanthus biomass production with seed based hybrids. GCB Bioenergy 9: 6-17. 2017. CliftonBrown J, Harfouche A, Casler MD, Jones HD, Macalpine WJ, MurphyBokern D, Smart LB, Adler A, Ashman C, AwtyCarroll D, Bastien C, Bopper S, Botnari V, BrancourtHulmel M, Chen Z, Clark LV, Cosentino S, Dalton S, Davey C, Dolstra O, Donnison I, Flavell R, Greef J, Hanley S, Hastings A, Hertzberg M, Hsu T-W, Huang LS, Lurato A, Jensen E, Jin X, Jørgensen U, Kiesel A, Kim D-S, Liu J, McCalmont JP, McMahon BG, Mos M, Robson P, Sacks EJ, Sandu A, Scalici G, Schwarz K, Scordia D, Shafiei R, Shield I, Slavov G, Stanton BJ, Swaminathan K, Taylor G, Torres AF, Trindade LM, Tschaplinski T, Tuskan GA, Yamada T, Yu CY , Zalesny RS Jr, Zong J, Lewandowski I. Breeding progress and preparedness for mass-scale deployment of perennial lignocellulosic biomass crops switchgrass, miscanthus, willow, and poplar. GCB Bioenergy 11: 118-151. 2019. Taylor G, Donnison IS, Murphy-Bokern D, Morgante M, Bogeat-Triboulot M-B, Bhalerao R, Hertzberg M, Polle A, Harfouche A, Alasia F, Petoussi V, Trebbi D, Schwarz K, Keurentjes JJB, Centritto M, Genty B, Flexas J, Grill E, Salvi S, Davies WJ. Sustainable bioenergy for climate mitigation: developing drought-tolerant trees and grasses. Annals of Botany 124: 513-520. 2019. Huang LS, Flavell R, Donnison IS, Chiang Y-C, Hastings A, Hayes C, Heidt C, Hong H, Hsu T-W, Humphreys M, Jackson J, Norris J, Schwarz K-U, Squance M, Swaller T, Thomas ID, Van Assche W, Xi Q, Yamada T, Youell S, Clifton-Brown J. Collecting wild Miscanthus germplasm in Asia for crop improvement and conservation in Europe whilst adhering to the guidelines of the United Nations' Convention on Biological Diversity. Annals of Botany 124: 591-604. 2019. Clifton-Brown J, Schwarz K-U, Awty-Carroll D, Iurato A, Meyer H, Greef J, Gwyn J, Mos M, Ashman CR, Hayes C, Huang L, Norris J. Rodgers C, Scordia D, Shafiei R, Squance M, Swaller T, Youell S, Salvatore C, Flavell R. Breeding Strategies to Improve Miscanthus as a Sustainable Source of Biomass for Bioenergy and Biorenewable Products. Agronomy 9: 673. 2019.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Miscanthus to products: "GRowing Advanced industrial Crops on marginal lands for biorEfineries" (GRACE) 
Organisation University of Hohenheim
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Providing new research material and agronomy advice.
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration on the evaluation of Miscanthus seed based hybrids in continental Europe, their agronomy and management at scale and their utilisation in anaerobic digestion
Impact Clifton-Brown J, Hastings A, Mos M, McCalmont JP, Ashman C, Awty-Carroll D, Cerazy J, Chiang Y-C, Cosentino S, Cracroft-Eley W, Scurlock J, Donnison IS, Glover C, Golab I, Greef JM, Gwyn J, Harding G, Hayes C, Helios W, Hsu T-W, Huang LS, Jezowski S, Kim D-S, Kiesel A, Kotecki A, Krzyzak J, Lewandowski I, Lim SH, Liu J, Loosely M, Meyer H, Murphy-Bokern D, Nelson W, Pogrzeba M, Robinson G, Robson P, Rogers C, Scalici G, Schuele H, Shafiei R, Shevchuk O, Schwarz K-U, Squance M, Swaller T, Thornton J, Truckses T, Botnari V, Vizi, I, Wagner M, Warren R, Webster R, Yamada T, Youell S, Xi Q, Zong J, Flavell R. Progress in upscaling Miscanthus biomass production with seed based hybrids. GCB Bioenergy 9: 6-17. 2017. CliftonBrown J, Harfouche A, Casler MD, Jones HD, Macalpine WJ, MurphyBokern D, Smart LB, Adler A, Ashman C, AwtyCarroll D, Bastien C, Bopper S, Botnari V, BrancourtHulmel M, Chen Z, Clark LV, Cosentino S, Dalton S, Davey C, Dolstra O, Donnison I, Flavell R, Greef J, Hanley S, Hastings A, Hertzberg M, Hsu T-W, Huang LS, Lurato A, Jensen E, Jin X, Jørgensen U, Kiesel A, Kim D-S, Liu J, McCalmont JP, McMahon BG, Mos M, Robson P, Sacks EJ, Sandu A, Scalici G, Schwarz K, Scordia D, Shafiei R, Shield I, Slavov G, Stanton BJ, Swaminathan K, Taylor G, Torres AF, Trindade LM, Tschaplinski T, Tuskan GA, Yamada T, Yu CY , Zalesny RS Jr, Zong J, Lewandowski I. Breeding progress and preparedness for mass-scale deployment of perennial lignocellulosic biomass crops switchgrass, miscanthus, willow, and poplar. GCB Bioenergy 11: 118-151. 2019.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Miscanthus value chain development 
Organisation Terravesta Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have worked with Terravesta Ltd on a number of collaborative projects but in this BBSRC Core Strategic Programme in Resilient Crops project we are collaborating with Terravesta to collect data from larger scale demonstration plots of new hybrids outside of Aberystwyth for publication and helping to develop new value chains.
Collaborator Contribution Terravesta are providing demonstration scale field trials in the UK for IBERS to instrument and collect data for Miscanthus crop science which saves IBERS from having to establish and run trials outside of the Aberystwyth area.
Impact No outcomes from the current project have arisen yet but data is being collected.
Start Year 2017
 
Description UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP VJC Nitrogen) 
Organisation Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation
Department Embrapa Agrobiologia
Country Brazil 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution WP2.2 Isolate and characterize epiphytic and endophytic bacteria from C4 plants and select the most efficient strains in terms of plant growth promotion WP2.3 Molecular tagging to visualise colonisation and localisation in planta WP2.4 Phenomics analysis of plant growth in response to inoculation under limited nitrogen and/or water WP3 Identify genetic components required for efficient crop-microbe interactions
Collaborator Contribution WP1 Strategies for engineering ammonium excretion in diazotrophic endophytes WP2.1 Devise selection strategies to isolate efficient endophytes using serial inoculation WP2.5 Quantitate nitrogen fixation using 15N WP4. Evaluate the effectiveness of inoculants in field trials
Impact UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP). We are a virtual joint centre working to develop innovative technologies to increase crop productivity in Brazil using nitrogen-fixing bacteria as a sustainable source of fixed nitrogen. In turn this will reduce the input of chemical fertilisers in agriculture and mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of reactive nitrogen pollution.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP VJC Nitrogen) 
Organisation Federal Institute of Rio Grande do Sul
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution WP2.2 Isolate and characterize epiphytic and endophytic bacteria from C4 plants and select the most efficient strains in terms of plant growth promotion WP2.3 Molecular tagging to visualise colonisation and localisation in planta WP2.4 Phenomics analysis of plant growth in response to inoculation under limited nitrogen and/or water WP3 Identify genetic components required for efficient crop-microbe interactions
Collaborator Contribution WP1 Strategies for engineering ammonium excretion in diazotrophic endophytes WP2.1 Devise selection strategies to isolate efficient endophytes using serial inoculation WP2.5 Quantitate nitrogen fixation using 15N WP4. Evaluate the effectiveness of inoculants in field trials
Impact UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP). We are a virtual joint centre working to develop innovative technologies to increase crop productivity in Brazil using nitrogen-fixing bacteria as a sustainable source of fixed nitrogen. In turn this will reduce the input of chemical fertilisers in agriculture and mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of reactive nitrogen pollution.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP VJC Nitrogen) 
Organisation Federal University of Paraná
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution WP2.2 Isolate and characterize epiphytic and endophytic bacteria from C4 plants and select the most efficient strains in terms of plant growth promotion WP2.3 Molecular tagging to visualise colonisation and localisation in planta WP2.4 Phenomics analysis of plant growth in response to inoculation under limited nitrogen and/or water WP3 Identify genetic components required for efficient crop-microbe interactions
Collaborator Contribution WP1 Strategies for engineering ammonium excretion in diazotrophic endophytes WP2.1 Devise selection strategies to isolate efficient endophytes using serial inoculation WP2.5 Quantitate nitrogen fixation using 15N WP4. Evaluate the effectiveness of inoculants in field trials
Impact UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP). We are a virtual joint centre working to develop innovative technologies to increase crop productivity in Brazil using nitrogen-fixing bacteria as a sustainable source of fixed nitrogen. In turn this will reduce the input of chemical fertilisers in agriculture and mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of reactive nitrogen pollution.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP VJC Nitrogen) 
Organisation Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution WP2.2 Isolate and characterize epiphytic and endophytic bacteria from C4 plants and select the most efficient strains in terms of plant growth promotion WP2.3 Molecular tagging to visualise colonisation and localisation in planta WP2.4 Phenomics analysis of plant growth in response to inoculation under limited nitrogen and/or water WP3 Identify genetic components required for efficient crop-microbe interactions
Collaborator Contribution WP1 Strategies for engineering ammonium excretion in diazotrophic endophytes WP2.1 Devise selection strategies to isolate efficient endophytes using serial inoculation WP2.5 Quantitate nitrogen fixation using 15N WP4. Evaluate the effectiveness of inoculants in field trials
Impact UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP). We are a virtual joint centre working to develop innovative technologies to increase crop productivity in Brazil using nitrogen-fixing bacteria as a sustainable source of fixed nitrogen. In turn this will reduce the input of chemical fertilisers in agriculture and mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of reactive nitrogen pollution.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP VJC Nitrogen) 
Organisation James Hutton Institute
Department Ecological Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution WP2.2 Isolate and characterize epiphytic and endophytic bacteria from C4 plants and select the most efficient strains in terms of plant growth promotion WP2.3 Molecular tagging to visualise colonisation and localisation in planta WP2.4 Phenomics analysis of plant growth in response to inoculation under limited nitrogen and/or water WP3 Identify genetic components required for efficient crop-microbe interactions
Collaborator Contribution WP1 Strategies for engineering ammonium excretion in diazotrophic endophytes WP2.1 Devise selection strategies to isolate efficient endophytes using serial inoculation WP2.5 Quantitate nitrogen fixation using 15N WP4. Evaluate the effectiveness of inoculants in field trials
Impact UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP). We are a virtual joint centre working to develop innovative technologies to increase crop productivity in Brazil using nitrogen-fixing bacteria as a sustainable source of fixed nitrogen. In turn this will reduce the input of chemical fertilisers in agriculture and mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of reactive nitrogen pollution.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP VJC Nitrogen) 
Organisation John Innes Centre
Department Molecular Microbiology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution WP2.2 Isolate and characterize epiphytic and endophytic bacteria from C4 plants and select the most efficient strains in terms of plant growth promotion WP2.3 Molecular tagging to visualise colonisation and localisation in planta WP2.4 Phenomics analysis of plant growth in response to inoculation under limited nitrogen and/or water WP3 Identify genetic components required for efficient crop-microbe interactions
Collaborator Contribution WP1 Strategies for engineering ammonium excretion in diazotrophic endophytes WP2.1 Devise selection strategies to isolate efficient endophytes using serial inoculation WP2.5 Quantitate nitrogen fixation using 15N WP4. Evaluate the effectiveness of inoculants in field trials
Impact UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP). We are a virtual joint centre working to develop innovative technologies to increase crop productivity in Brazil using nitrogen-fixing bacteria as a sustainable source of fixed nitrogen. In turn this will reduce the input of chemical fertilisers in agriculture and mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of reactive nitrogen pollution.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP VJC Nitrogen) 
Organisation State University of the North of Parana
Country Brazil 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution WP2.2 Isolate and characterize epiphytic and endophytic bacteria from C4 plants and select the most efficient strains in terms of plant growth promotion WP2.3 Molecular tagging to visualise colonisation and localisation in planta WP2.4 Phenomics analysis of plant growth in response to inoculation under limited nitrogen and/or water WP3 Identify genetic components required for efficient crop-microbe interactions
Collaborator Contribution WP1 Strategies for engineering ammonium excretion in diazotrophic endophytes WP2.1 Devise selection strategies to isolate efficient endophytes using serial inoculation WP2.5 Quantitate nitrogen fixation using 15N WP4. Evaluate the effectiveness of inoculants in field trials
Impact UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP). We are a virtual joint centre working to develop innovative technologies to increase crop productivity in Brazil using nitrogen-fixing bacteria as a sustainable source of fixed nitrogen. In turn this will reduce the input of chemical fertilisers in agriculture and mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of reactive nitrogen pollution.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP VJC Nitrogen) 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Department of Plant Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution WP2.2 Isolate and characterize epiphytic and endophytic bacteria from C4 plants and select the most efficient strains in terms of plant growth promotion WP2.3 Molecular tagging to visualise colonisation and localisation in planta WP2.4 Phenomics analysis of plant growth in response to inoculation under limited nitrogen and/or water WP3 Identify genetic components required for efficient crop-microbe interactions
Collaborator Contribution WP1 Strategies for engineering ammonium excretion in diazotrophic endophytes WP2.1 Devise selection strategies to isolate efficient endophytes using serial inoculation WP2.5 Quantitate nitrogen fixation using 15N WP4. Evaluate the effectiveness of inoculants in field trials
Impact UK-Brazil Nitrogen Fixation Centre (BBSRC-CONFAP). We are a virtual joint centre working to develop innovative technologies to increase crop productivity in Brazil using nitrogen-fixing bacteria as a sustainable source of fixed nitrogen. In turn this will reduce the input of chemical fertilisers in agriculture and mitigate the environmental and economic impacts of reactive nitrogen pollution.
Start Year 2016
 
Description UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLOITING BIOLOGICAL NITROGEN FIXATION FOR IMPROVEMENT OF BRAZILIAN AGRICULTURE 
Organisation John Innes Centre
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Co-I on Virtual Joint Centre award
Collaborator Contribution PI and Co-Is on Virtual Joint Centre award
Impact Due to start 2016
Start Year 2016
 
Description Welsh School of Architecture 
Organisation Cardiff University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This project brings together grassland scientists, architects and landscape architects to increase the resilience of green infrastructures in the built environment in the UK and in Asia.
Collaborator Contribution The Welsh School of Architecture bring expertise on the modelling and design of green buildings and infrastructure including expertise in Asia and especially in Hong Kong.
Impact The project is ongoing and no outputs or outcomes have arisen yet.
Start Year 2018
 
Title Filing for plant variety protection for four (additional) Miscanthus seed based hybrids and agreement of licensing terms 
Description We have filed for four additional Miscanthus varieties (8 in total) and in addition agreed a licensing arrangement for them with Terravesta. 
IP Reference  
Protection Protection not required
Year Protection Granted 2019
Licensed Yes
Impact These varieties are currently being trialed on farms in the UK and also at multiple locations in Europe. This is still the beginning of a new seed based Miscanthus industry in UK/ Europe and a number of companies have been involved in the application and modification of existing technologies to make the new agronomies possible. A research highlight is currently being written with UKRI-BBSRC to describe the research leading up to this impact.
 
Title Filing for plant variety protection for four Miscanthus seed based hybrids and agreement of licensing terms. 
Description We have now filed four new Miscanthus varieties (Artemis, Atropos, Astraea and Aphrodite; two seed propagated and two rhizome propagated) and in addition agreed a licensing arrangement for them. 
IP Reference  
Protection Protection not required
Year Protection Granted 2018
Licensed Yes
Impact These varieties are currently being trialed on farms in the UK and also at multiple locations in Europe. This is the beginning of a new seed based Miscanthus industry in UK/ Europe and a number of companies have been involved in the application and modification of existing technologies to make the new agronomies possible.
 
Title Licencing of 10 hybrids for commercial upscaling to Terravesta Ltd. 
Description Selected novel hybrids bred during GIANT LINK (known as the GNT hybrids) were scaled up in MUST. Ten have been licenced to Terravesta. 
IP Reference  
Protection Copyrighted (e.g. software)
Year Protection Granted 2019
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact This allows Terravesta to attract investment
 
Title Registration of 7 new Miscanthus hybrids 
Description Novel seed Miscanthus varieties for upscaling planted areas 
IP Reference  
Protection Copyrighted (e.g. software)
Year Protection Granted 2020
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact 7 new Miscanthus hybrids have been entered with the European Central Plant Varieties Office (CPVO)
 
Description Aberbeen departmental seminar: 8-9 May 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussion with students and staff on the opportunity for biomass to contribute to Net zero
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Aberystwyth University Science Fair 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Every year during Science Week, 1700+ school children and their teachers visit Aber to be enthused about science via a diverse range of hand-on exhibits.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Articles for Biochemical Society's blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Experience communicating with a wider audience about the experience of being a PhD student and the research project. Raise awareness of the research group.
https://thebiochemistblog.com/2017/05/18/phyte-club-inside-the-plant-microbiome/
https://thebiochemistblog.com/2017/03/27/the-very-best-things-about-phd-life/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://thebiochemistblog.com/2017/05/18/phyte-club-inside-the-plant-microbiome/
 
Description Azerbaijan Ambassador 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The Azerbaijan Ambassador visited to learn more about IBERS research and training including the Core Strategic Programme on resilient crops and had a tour of the National Plant Phenomics Centre.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description BEACON Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A workshop was held as part of the BEACON Conference to discuss the development of a Welsh bioeconomy strategy. This involved engagement with industry, local government in Wales, Welsh Government and BEIS. Engagement from Scotland and English regions indicated the value and the workshop has led to one further meeting with ourselves, Welsh Government and BEIS on the bioeconomy as a result and an intent to meet again.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description British Science Week 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 2016 - PhD students presented a poster of their research project with an audience of school children and teachers. Posters were later copied and sent to teachers for display in schools.
Students from 9 Secondary schools were in attendance over the course of the week.
2017 - PhD students organised and ran a stand for the three day event, supervising a team of undergraduate students.
• A three day event demonstrating chemical changes and properties to early secondary school aged children from several local schools using hands-on experiments they could try.
• Voted third place out of around 40 different stands at the event.
• Over 3000 schoolchildren attended over the event.
• Video online including PhD student talking about endophytes https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2017/03/title-198574-en.html
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2017/03/title-198574-en.html
 
Description CEREALS 2019: 12-13 June 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Our IBERS MUST team joined Terravesta Ltd. on the stand for both days. An important outcome was the engagement of stakeholders in different parts of the biomass value chain.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.cerealsevent.co.uk/
 
Description Engagement on alternative aviation fuels in Washington 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A half day engagement activity on alternative aviation fuels in Washington, USA following the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) meeting between industry, academia and policymakers. The engagement was to build understanding and links between UK, USA and Canada.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2018
 
Description Engagement with NFU local and national vice-president 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Engagement with NFU local farmers and representatives and the UK national vice-president (Stuart Roberts) to discuss food and farming including agricultural education and careers with early career researchers and in a panel session discussion with final year students. Further plans were discussed in relation to a public lecture on the future of food as part of the 100 years of plant breeding in Aberystwyth in late March in 2019, which will have a larger public and total engagement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/ibers/news/news-article/title-221473-en.html
 
Description Fascination of plants, Aberaeron 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Staff ran a stall, aimed at introducing plant biology and crop breeding to the general public. The exhibits were "hands on" and illustrated bio-diversity, adaptation as well as the use of technology to study and improve plants/crops
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Food and Farming Futures / NFU Seminar: institutional frameworks to support a world-leading farming and food industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Event to discuss "Do we have the right institutional framework in place to support a world-leading farming and food industry to deliver the ever-challenging needs of society?"
The seminar built on the thinking of a recent industry-wide discussion reflecting that UK agriculture faces an unprecedented opportunity to take the driving seat for delivering society's needs; producing healthy food that helps to tackle the rise in diet-related human diseases, whilst protecting our precious environmental resources and which also helps to mitigate climate change, soil health, water and air quality.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Hosted visit from NFU on Net Zero Agriculture 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Hosted a visit from a senior NFU team on their target for agriculture to be Net Zero by 2040. IBERS, including Core Strategic Programme (CSP) Science, was presented to describe how emissions can be decreased from ruminant livestock agriculture and what options there are for diversification into negative emission farming. The discussions included IBERS staff from all four CSP sub-programmes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Industrial Decarbonisation Research & Innovation Centre (IDRIC) Ideas Factory workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Attended the Industrial Decarbonisation Research & Innovation Centre (IDRIC) Ideas Factory workshop at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. Engaged with a number of industrial clusters on how urban and rural decarbonisation strategies can be linked up.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://idric.org/events/
 
Description Low Carbon Cymru 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Low Carbon Cymru 2018 brought together academics and professionals from across Wales in the Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI) themes of marine energy, wind, bioenergy, solar, gas and hydrogen and the built environment with the aim of developing a low carbon Wales. The workshop showcased the achievements of researchers within the pan Wales LCRI over the last ten years and looked at how the LCRI can continue to play a role in addressing the challenges of the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.cynnalcymru.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Low-Carbon-Cymru-2018-Agenda.pdf
 
Description MISCOMAR conference Katowice, Poland 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The event included scientific presentations, presentations from industrial partners and a debate on next steps and policy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.miscomar.eu/
 
Description MUST Project Stakeholder Field Safari: 28 August 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact A field display the the crops and the machinery developed during the MUST project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Meeting with Government Office for Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meeting with three members of the Government Office for Science Team at IBERS, Aberystwyth on agricultural productivity gaps in grassland science. The following topics were discussed: Upland grasslands; Plant breeding; Farming extension; and International grasslands research which included Colombia as an example of the potential for impact internationally to for example increase stocking density and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, both targets of the Colombian Government. This raised awareness of issues in grassland and upland agriculture in the UK and internationally, and has identified specific areas for future policy engagement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Miscanthus field visit and information day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Up to 50 farmers, policymakers and innovation focused researchers from Wales, UK and Europe visited Aberystwyth University Miscanthus trial sites including a 6 ha site long term site for environmental monitoring and providing material for animal bedding, a local livestock farmer using Miscanthus as animal bedding for sheep and cattle, and new variety trials at approx. 1,000 feet at the Aberystwyth University Pwllpeiran experimental farm. The visit attracted questions and interest from farmers, and policymakers on the alternative uses for Miscanthus beyond energy and also the ability to grow it in the uplands.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Resilient green infrastructures and cities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meeting with Taipei Representative Office in the UK including Representative Amb. David Yung-Lo Lin and Director of Science and Technology Division Prof Jiun-Huei Proty Wu on future cities and green infrastructure and UK-Taiwan opportunities for collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Royal Welsh Agricultural Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Core Strategic Programme for Resilience staff were involved in displays and engagement activities at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, Builth Wells and discussed climate change mitigation through plants and also the potential of Miscanthus in farm diversification for energy, building materials, chemicals and animal bedding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/ibers/news/events/rws/
 
Description Royal Welsh Show 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Royal Welsh Show activities to communicate IBERS grassland science to a wide range of audiences. This included communication on new varieties and cropping systems as well as plant and animal health including a debate on bovine TB.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/news/archive/2019/07/title-224640-en.html
 
Description Royal Welsh Show: 22 July 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Royal Welsh is a very large event with a strong outreach to the public as well as those involved in the sector. Discussions between stands were ongoing, and have led to important Welsh policy links.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://rwas.wales/royal-welsh/
 
Description The Miscanthus bale house 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Collaboration with the Centre of Alternative Technology (third sector) and industry (Terravesta) to build the worlds first Miscanthus bale house which attracted interest and interviews from BBC, and was picked up on by the press (newspapers and trade magazines etc) and national radio (Farming today). The project generated interest from eco-building organisations and local councils and has led to joint projects being discussed/ developed for funding applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-41088441
 
Description Various student engagement activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact IBERS Excellence with Impact Poster session. 28th April 2016
• Presenting a poster of my research plans as part of the IBERS EWI event
• 80-100 people attended the event.
Presentation to School Teachers. 8th June 2016
• A ten minute oral presentation of research project to secondary school teachers.
• 20-30 teachers were in attendance.
Public Engagement Poster Session. 18th June 2016
• Presented a research poster to an audience of the general public.
• Over 100 people attended
World Food Day poster. 16th October 2016
• Public outreach event marking World Food Day, organised and hosted with fellow postgraduate students.
• The event illustrated the journey of food from production, through processing, to consumption, and waste, and highlighting environmental impacts.
• ~50 people attended.
Science and Energy Lecture. 19th May 2017
• Delivering a 2 hour lecture to primary school children on energy changes, with hands on demonstrations of a range of experiments.
• Groups from three primary schools were in attendance, totalling over 80 children.
• There will hopefully be a repeat of this event 2018.
Worcester Postgraduate Research Conference 29th June 2017
• 15 minute oral research presentation to a conference session of academic researchers and other postgraduate students from a range of disciplines and institutions.
• 80-100 people were at the event.
Online Outreach
• Blog (friendlybacteria.wordpress.com) writing about Science (mainly microbiology) for a general audience. I'm not sure how many people this has reached.
• Social Media: use of Instagram to post about Science and Nature (@friendly_bacteria) and Twitter to do the same (@frndlybacteria). Over 500 followers on Instagram and nearly 1300 on Twitter.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
 
Description WATBIO Stakeholder meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Multidisciplinary research was presented detailing, glasshouse, phenomics, modelling, molecular analysis and mapping populations used to improve understanding of water stress responses in Miscanthus. This research was presented to a mixed audience of academics, industry and representatives of the EU.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016,2017
URL http://www.watbio.eu/
 
Description Working with Cows on Tour to engage with schools and the public on agriculture and food, and in 2019 linked into the role of plant breeding and the 100th anniversary of Plant breeding 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We are working with Cows on Tour to engage with schools and the public on agriculture and food, and in 2019 have linked this to the role of plant breeding and the 100th anniversary of Plant breeding in Aberystwyth. We have met to discuss events and have started a series of engagements over the year, including some new ones for IBERS.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.welshcountry.co.uk/cows-on-tour-go-all-out-jurassic-farm/
 
Description Ystwyth Valley Farmers Discussion Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact An open evening event for the Ystwyth Valley Discussion Group, a group of about 25 local farmers and landowners to discuss the role of science and plant breeding for grassland farming. The event including a presentation, discussion and tours of the National Plant Phenomics Centre as an example of how modern technology is driving grassland science and the BEACON Biorefining Centre as an example of how more value can be created from grasslands and agricultural residues. There has been subsequent interest in learning more about IBERS science, particularly in the uplands, the use of oats again for livestock, and in the new varieties that are available and so plans are being made for further visits to the Pwllpeiran upland platform and to the forage grass and legume plots in the summer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description visit Lord Bourne Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Wales Office 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Discussion on agricultural research and education, including in industrial biotechnology, and a tour and discussion of the role of the National Plant Phenomics Centre as a National Facility, and its role in training.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2018