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Yangling Agricultural Fair & UK China Agritech Innovation Forum
PBL were represented at the 23rd China Yangling Agricultural Hi-tech Fair in November 2016, the largest exhibition of this kind which is co-hosted by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Agriculture, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and others. As part of the event, PBL’s Lars von Borcke participated in the UK China Policy Roundtable event, organised by the British Embassy Beijing and attended by the Chinese Ministry of Science & Technology as well as a range of eminent Chinese Scientists.
The event, and the subsequent UK China Agritech Innovation Forum, attended by scientists and many companies, was an excellent opportunity for PBL to further build on our connections with the Chinese science community and establish new contacts with Chinese agricultural companies.
For more information, please contact Dr Lars von Borcke.
Establishment of Leaf Systems International Limited
George Lomonossoff & Medicago - Review of Plant Molecular Production
A review article describing the history and explaining the exciting future of plant transient expression systems has been published in the September 2016 issue of Science by Prof George Lomonossoff of the John Innes Centre and Dr Marc-Andre d’Aoust of Medicago Inc. Prof Lomonossoff is the inventor of the Hypertrans® plant expression system that is the pre-eminent expression system for such applications (see article above). Medicago is a key licensee of the technology and has refined and developed it to create a fully GMP-compliant vaccine production platform. The article charts the development of plant expression systems and the current upsurge in interest in their use, following on from high-profile news stories and successes, such as the experimental use of the plant-made Z-MAPP therapeutic during the recent Ebola outbreak and the highly promising clinical trials for Medicago’s portfolio of influenza vaccines.
For more information, please contact Dr Martin Stocks.
Sensors in Food and Farming
In-soil nitrate sensor technology
Dr Tony Miller of the John Innes Centre has created a prototype device to continuously measure nitrate (and, in further developments, other important nutrients) in the field throughout a whole growing season. The early prototype has been tested successfully by a number of collaborators and has enabled accurate, real-time measurements of nitrate at various soil depths over a twelve month period, under various crops such as wheat and potato. This unprecedented flow of data gives unique insights into changing levels of nitrate in response to fertilisation, rainfall, temperature and uptake by crop plants. The nutrient sensing technology has been patented by PBL.
Currently Dr Miller is developing a second generation prototype with support from the Norwich Research Park Translational Fund. This second generation prototype is using ceramics in order to make the device more robust. Early testing is looking promising and PBL has now engaged with commercial development partners. We expect that a commercial nitrate sensor will be available within the next two years, enabling farmers to optimise their nitrate fertilizer input leading to higher yields, lower cost and avoiding the environmental impact of nitrate leaching.
UK-China research success published in PNAS: Increased crop yields by improved pH homoestasis
A collaboration between JIC and Nanjing Agricultural University has led to the discovery that increasing the expression of a rice gene, NRT2.3b, enhances crop performance. The innovation is patented and licensed by PBL for commercial development in several different crop species.
Nature Biotechnology looks at GM wheat for gluten sufferers
Will Europe toast GM wheat for gluten sufferers? Please click here for a link to the Nature Biotechnology journal article.
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