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BBSRC and NSF join together to promote new ideas to enhance photosynthesis

30 March 2010

Leading bioscience funding bodies in the UK and USA announce plans to promote scientific proposals in the potentially transformational area of enhanced photosynthesis.

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) announce plans to hold an intensive week long facilitated workshop - an "Ideas Lab" - in California later this year, to bring together leading researchers across all disciplines to foster new ideas, collaborations and proposals on novel biochemical mechanisms to enhance photosynthesis. Together BBSRC and NSF will make a total of up to $8M available to fund proposals from the workshop.

Both BBSRC and NSF will announce the details of how researchers at eligible institutions in the UK and US can apply to take part in the Ideas Lab over the next two weeks via their websites -  www.bbsrc.ac.uk and  www.nsf.gov.

Photosynthesis is the basis of energy capture from the sun in plants, algae and other organisms. More efficient solar energy capture through photosynthesis has the potential to be harnessed to yield major increases in biomass, which could boost crop yields for food, feed and bioenergy. If scientists can bring about a step change in the efficiency of photosynthesis it will have significance in helping us meet some of the grand challenges facing the world in the first half of this century such as food and energy security. Such research will be a transformational achievement, unlocking significant benefits and helping us to tackle a range of challenges in food, environment and energy.

Prof Janet Allen, BBSRC Director of Research, said: "Whether it is food security, new bioenergy sources or plant-based renewable industrial chemicals, plant science offers huge potential for helping us to address future challenges. Enhancing photosynthesis is the 'big one'. This is high risk-high reward science. There is no guarantee of success but if we can enhance photosynthesis the impact could transform our world. We are hoping for some groundbreaking proposals from the Ideas Lab that could take us a step closer to unlocking the potential of photosynthesis."

ENDS

Notes to editors

Full details of the Ideas Lab and how to apply to take part will be published shortly on the BBSRC and NSF websites.

About BBSRC

BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Studies (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.

Contact

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

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Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382