Countering the Courgette Crisis
It seems we are facing a Courgette Crisis. Although it’s really just a bit of a run on green vegetables, it does remind us that actually, courgettes – and now iceberg lettuce – shouldn’t be ‘February vegetables’. This raises some important issues about what we as consumers have learned to expect when it comes to food.
Researchers at Warwick Crop Centre are looking at ways of improving existing UK vegetable and fruit crops as well as looking for completely new ones.
Professor Kevin Moffat has been shortlisted for the 2017 Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award
The Royal Society of Biology has announced finalists for the 2017 Higher Education Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award. Professor Kevin Moffat has been shortlisted for the award which recognises teachers who have shown an outstanding contribution to higher education in the biosciences.
PhD student Daniel Wilson wins poster prize!
Warwick Crop Centre PhD student Daniel Wilson won first prize for his poster at the Royal Entomological Society Postgraduate Forum held at Sheffield University on 2-3 February. The poster was entitled ' The colonisation of outdoor vegetables and salad crops by aphids'.
Daniel's project is funded by the Waitrose Agronomy Group and the University of Warwick. Daniel is seen here with fellow Warwick PhD student Victoria Woolley who also presented a poster.
Breathing molecule discovered: vital to treating respiratory conditions
Respiratory conditions could be better targeted and treated, thanks to the discovery of the vital molecule which regulates breathing – according to research by the University of Warwick.
Professor Nicholas Dale has exploited evolutionary principles to identify Connexin26 (Cx26) as a key molecule that reacts to CO2 in our bodies and activates breathing.
BRAVO: making Brassica crops more resilient
Protecting the UK’s most valuable crops by making them more resilient is at the heart of a new five-year project, in which the School of Life Sciences will play a key role.
The Brassica, Rapeseed and Vegetable Optimisation (BRAVO) project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), aims to combat losses of Oilseed rape and Brassica vegetable crops by unravelling the processes that control key aspects of plant development.
Read Press Release
SLS alumnus raises awareness of the homeless
James Beavis, a former Biomedical Science student who gradated in 2016, spent his Christmas sleeping rough on the streets of London. His aim was to raise money for and to try to better understand the homeless community.
Read about his life on the streets in the Guardian: 'Spat on and ignored': what I've learned from a month sleeping rough in London
Free Public Science evening on 7 February 2017: 'Keeping plant disease at bay'
The School of Life Sciences is proud to host a free Public Science event, 'The Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust Food Security Lecture - Keeping plant disease at bay’ on Tuesday 7 February 2017.
Our ability to grow plants productively is under severe and increasing threat from climate change. Increasing global temperatures could decrease the amount of food on our shelves, leading to global food shortages of our favourite products such as beans. These rising temperatures may also lead to the spread of harmful plant diseases that destroy our crops and threaten farmers’ livelihoods. Discover how our research, which covers weeds and crops through to trees and even includes bananas, strives to understand and mitigate these threats to ensure that we can feed ourselves in the future. Interesting demonstrations and talks will explain how we keep our food secure via pest management, pollinators, and whole plant imaging.
The evening will be hosted by Professor Murray Grant who took up the role of Elizabeth Creak Chair in Food Security in June 2016. Professor Grant’s post has been funded by The Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust, which was established in memory of Elizabeth Creak - a highly capable and well respected farmer who brought many creative ideas to the world of farming.
Professor Murray Grant, said
“Warwick Crop Centre based at Wellesbourne, close to the original farm of Elizabeth Creak, provides the unique ability for translating findings from the lab into the field.”
Registration to attend the event is now open. All are welcome, and we are especially keen to see alumni and members of the local community attend. This event follows on from our previous highly successful Public Science events ‘A healthy brain for a healthy life’, ‘Getting to grips with antibiotic resistance’ and ‘The Fly Room’. This event is free to attend and will start at 18:00 and end at 20:00.
Ash dieback: Insect threat to fungus-resistant trees
Ash trees which can resist the killer dieback fungus may be more vulnerable to attacks by insects, according to new research.
Scientists from the universities of Exeter and Warwick examined trees which are resistant to ash dieback and – unexpectedly – found they had very low levels of chemicals which defend against insects.
With efforts under way to protect ash trees from dieback, the scientists warn that selecting trees for fungal resistance could put them at risk from insects.
Deadly sleeping sickness set to be eliminated in six years
Gambian sleeping sickness – a deadly parasitic disease spread by tsetse flies - could be eliminated in six years in key regions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to new research by the University of Warwick.
Kat Rock and Matt Keeling at the School of Life Sciences, with colleagues in DRC and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, have calculated the impact of different intervention strategies on the population dynamics of tsetse flies and humans - establishing which strategies show the most promise to control and eliminate the disease.
Christmas dinner saved! Sprouts gain natural disease defence
Professor John Walsh’s group at the School of Life Sciences, Wellesbourne campus, has discovered natural plant genes that will make sprouts resistant to two of the biggest threats they face: Turnip mosaic virus and Turnip yellows virus.
A disabling parasitic disease which causes elephantiasis, and threatens around one billion people globally - Lymphatic filariasis - could be eliminated more quickly, thanks to research by the University of Warwick.
Dr Deirdre Hollingsworth, a member of the School of Life Sciences, who leads the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Modelling Consortium, led an international team that has discovered that if a recently proposed combination of three particular drugs is used together, the disease can be prevented or treated rapidly, in a maximum amount of people, using fewer rounds of drugs.
New student blogs
The School of Life Sciences has recently recruited four new undergraduate and taught postgraduate student bloggers.
Our undergraduate bloggers, Nisreen Chahid and Emily Morris, will blog monthly about… well anything really. This month Emily’s blogs cover ‘Where am I going to live?’ and ‘Christmaaaaaas’.
Postgraduate bloggers, Sandhya Sriram and Liwsi Butler, have got off to a flying start with Sandhya’s blog on ‘My top 5 Warwick SU societies’.
If you want to hear from current students about life at the University of Warwick, look out for the interesting and informative posts from our bloggers.
Public Science event: 'The Fly Room'
On the afternoon of Friday 25 November 2016, Professor Kevin Moffat led a Public Science screening of the critically acclaimed arthouse film ‘The Fly Room’. This film centered around the famous Fly Room at the University of Columbia, run by Dr Thomas Hunt Morgan. It was here that the basic laws that govern heritability and the passing of traits were discovered – work that would eventually win their lab a Nobel Prize in 1933 and formed the foundation of the genetic discoveries that continue today. The focus of the film was on Dr Calvin Bridges and his daughter Betsy, and how their relationship evolved after a father-daughter visit to the lab. This film mixed science and arts in an attempt to not only engage the audience with the scientific story of genetics but also the social story about the relationship between a father and daughter.
After the film showing a Q&A with the director Alexis Gambis was held. Following that, a poster discussion about current Drosophila research from various West Midlands genetics researchers took place.
Feedback from local residents and attendees was incredibly positive with many approving of the film:
‘Beautiful and intriguing. I loved the interplay between past and present, memories, dreams and reality’
'Beautifully filmed piece on the analysis between relationships and science, with a great non-linear narrative’
‘Very engaging I loved the photography and the portrayal of characters and their relationships. Great alternative to a factual lecture in a sterile environment. The music score was great and enhanced the film, especially it’s gentle background presence. This film is a very effective medium to deliver a message, a story and idea. People enjoy stories’
‘Showing a film about science and relationships to an audience of scientists and non-scientists, the duality was there for the viewers as in the film. This is the best way to communicate science to the community’
Why not come to one of our future public science events? For details visit www.warwick.ac.uk/lifesci/outreach/publicscievents
Food security is at the heart of a new doctoral training collaboration between the University of Warwick and Waitrose, thanks to an award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).
Warwick will work with Waitrose and their suppliers, to provide PhD students with a unique combination of academic development and industry training in the field of agriculture and sustainable crop production.
£1.1million funding for research into the structural basis of brain CO2-detection
Professor Nick Dale has been awarded £1.1million from the MRC for his project ‘Structural and biophysical basis of Connexin26 channel mediated disease'. Dr Alex Cameron and Dr Corinne Smith are co-investigators.
CO2 is the unavoidable by-product of metabolism and its regulated excretion via breathing is a key homeostatic process. The gap junction protein Connexin26 (Cx26) is an extremely important physiological sensor for CO2. This project will show how CO2 binds to Cx26 to gate channel opening thereby providing the structural underpinnings for one of the most important life preserving reflexes: the CO2-dependent regulation of breathing. Additionally, we will transform mechanistic understanding of how certain Cx26 mutations linked to human pathology alter CO2 binding. This new knowledge will impact across the many diverse fields of biomedical science where connexins, and in particular Cx26, have important roles in normal and abnormal (patho) physiological function in health and disease.
Clathrin: maintaining cell health in geometric style
Dr Corinne Smith, reader in structural biology and biophysics, was recently awarded a Royal Society Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship for her work on clathrin. To find out why Corinne is intrigued by clathrin read her post for the Royal Society of Biology at blog.rsb.org.uk/clathrin-maintaining-cell-health-in-geometric-style
Free film screening of The Fly Room on Friday 25 November
On Friday 25 November, the School of Life Sciences has sponsored a free showing of the critically acclaimed arthouse film ‘The Fly Room’ in the Warwick Arts Centre Cinema. This film explores the relationship between a father and daughter as the father spends all of his time in ‘The Fly Room’, where is he responsible for the discovery of modern day genetics.
This film has a very limited release and the director is coming especially over from the USA to do a Q&A at the end. If you would like to know more about the film please visit www.theflyroom.com
TICKETS ARE FREE.
New study identifies scope for more innovation in horticulture
A unique study has taken a thoughtful approach to understand why parts of the horticulture industry do not take up some of the innovative ideas that emerge from universities and research institutes, as well as other areas of the industry. The study has been undertaken by PhD student Jonathan Menary from Warwick Crop Centre, part of the School of Life Sciences.