The zebra mussel is one of the world's most economically and ecologically
important pests, but existing control approaches cause significant
deleterious environmental effects. Researchers at the University of
Cambridge have developed a `BioBullet' against zebra mussels, which
encapsulates toxins in a harmless edible coat, enabling efficient,
targeted product delivery and dramatically reducing environmental
pollution. [text removed for publication] Further successful formulations
are being developed by the researchers and the company for fouling in
shrimp farms and enhancing shellfish aquaculture.
Plant resistance provides sustainable control of the $125bn annual world
crop losses to nematodes to replace environmentally hazardous pesticides.
Urwin and Atkinson have developed three biosafe resistance
technologies that 1) suppress feeding success, 2) reduce root invasion and
3) suppress nematode development by RNA interference. We have developed GM
agriculture with leading industry (Sinochem, Monsanto) and in emerging
economies through free access to technology, capacity building
initiatives, review of collaborative R&D plans (India) and regulatory
approval of field trials (Uganda). The work has also influenced
policy-makers in the UK and in Switzerland, leading to new security
measures for GM field trials in these countries..
Research by Lisa Emberson has led to tighter controls on air pollutant
precursor emissions of
ozone (O3) across Europe benefiting crop and forest
productivity, and grassland species
composition. Emberson's research led to new risk assessment methods, based
on knowledge of
atmospheric exchange processes and plant eco-physiology, which assess O3
uptake and related
damage using novel flux-based `Critical Levels'. These new methods are
being used to optimise
emission reduction policy by 26 parties (member states) who have signed
and ratified the United
Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Gothenburg Protocol
established under the
Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP).
Impact: Economic: The first fungicide-based control schemes
minimising UK barley yield losses (saving approx. 516K tonnes / £95.1M per
annum). A risk assessment method, which minimised pesticide usage.
Significance: Barley is the second most popular cereal crop grown
in the UK — in 2012, 5.52 million tonnes of barley were grown (market
value £1.02 billion). The research led to savings to the UK farming
industry of ~£5.4 million per annum
Beneficiaries: Farmers, malting and brewing industries, UK tax
Attribution: Drs. Oxley, Havis, Hughes, Fountaine, and Burnett
(SRUC) identified the pathogen and produced a field test for early
identification of infestation.
Reach: Barley growing, malting and brewing sectors, seed and
agrochemical industries UK-wide and in Ireland.
Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) occur globally and produce a wide range
of potent toxins (cyanotoxins) that can be among the most hazardous
natural products in aquatic environments. Research by the University of
Dundee uncovered the biochemical mechanism of action of the microcystin
family of cyanotoxins, which resulted in the development of new cyanotoxin
detection and analytical methods, and demonstrated the health risks of
cyanotoxins. This body of research has had a direct impact on several
governmental and regulatory authority guidelines on water safety,
resulting in the implementation of procedures to reduce the risks
presented by cyanotoxins to water-users.
Newcastle research into improving commercial soil-based greenhouse
productivity has led to an
increase in profitability (due to higher yields and lower costs) and a
significant reduction in the
negative environmental impacts of commercial, organic and other soil-based
production systems in Europe (UK, Greece and Crete). Newcastle's research
has led to improved
profits to UK organic tomato farmers estimated to be up to
£100,000/ha/year and has allowed large
scale organic greenhouse production to be a viable option to meet the
demands of the UK organic
market. In Greece increased profits are estimated at €25,000 per ha/year
and in Crete the
estimated value of reduced soil disease control and pest management is
€110,000 per ha/year.
By 2020 global demand for plant-derived oils is set to increase by 23%.
Researchers at Cardiff University have developed an approach using a
method called flux control analysis to identify key biomolecular nodes
which, when manipulated, enhance oil production. This research has
informed the successful improvement of oil crops and has already increased
oil yields in new strains of oilseed rape in the field by over 8%. The
methodology is currently being applied to other major oil crops (oil palm,
soybean), and has changed industry practice in crop development.
Yield of valuable biomass fibre components and their utilization in the
food industry has been maximised by novel, cost-effective and
environment-friendly plant fibre extraction methods developed by BEAA.
Specifically, application of these methods enabled patenting and
commercialisation of oat fibre extraction by the Swedish company BioVelop,
directly resulting in commercial impact through international sales of
five nutritional products released since 2010. The most successful of
these is produced at a quantity of 180,000 kg, or € 600,000 per year. In
May 2013, world-leading food-additive giant Tate & Lyle took over
BioVelop, securing the success and lasting commercial impact of the BEAA
Research using novel techniques of genetic marker-aided selection enabled
the development of new high yield, disease- and drought-resistant pearl
millet hybrids, of which HHB67-Improved was released throughout
India. HHB67-Improved is the first product of marker-assisted
breeding to reach cereal producers in India and has spread rapidly since
its release, preventing yield losses to downy mildew of up to 30% (valued
at £7.8M) per year, and providing £2.6M additional annual grain yield. By
2011, it was grown on over 700,000 ha and currently three million people
have improved food security as a direct result of this international
development focused work.
Three specific projects have addressed issues of resource utilisation and pollution related to
poultry production. The novel form of silicon developed by the Poultry Research Unit (PRU)
has been taken into the product portfolio of a FTSE100 company, AB Agri [Associated British
Agriculture PLC] as a feed supplement to reduce poultry lameness. There are approximately
48 billion meat chickens produced globally every year but high incidence of lameness leads
to economic loss and avoidable environmental pollution. In conjunction with ABAgri, PRU
also produced evidence-based research resulting in a patent for recovering yeast from
bioethanol production. The process is now being implemented by ABAgri to produce high-quality
protein for poultry feed alongside bioethanol production to reduce the carbon footprint
of both bioethanol and poultry meat production.