£10M funding has been announced today for research that aims to future-proof crops against climate change and evolving food needs. Cranfield University is partnering with the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research in one of seven projects, all of which are collaborations between organisations in the UK and India.

The research has been made possible thanks to £5M funding pots from both the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

Professor Jackie Hunter, Chief Executive, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, said: "These projects combine the strengths of researchers in India and the UK to help provide solutions to increasing food demands. Advances in sequencing, genomic and bioinformatic tools enable us to improve crops more rapidly than ever before to facilitate the step-change in agricultural productivity that will be required to feed the world sustainably."

Professor K VijayRaghavan, Secretary, Indian Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, said: "BBSRC and DBT have long worked together in areas of mutual strategic interest. This time the cooperation between the UK and Indian researchers aims to improve crop production addressing problems of disease and drought in crops; using pooled knowledge to improve both quality and quantity of the of food produce."

Cranfield’s project, entitled 'Genomics-assisted selection of Solanum chilense introgression lines for enhancing drought resistance in tomatoes', is focused on developing drought-tolerant tomatoes using the latest advances in genomics - the study of DNA within a single cell of an organism.

Dr Andrew Thompson is the UK lead investigator for the project, working with Dr H C Prasanna from the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi.

Crops being watered
Watering green crops

Notes for editors

The seven funded projects are:

  1. A genomics-assisted synthetic hexaploid wheat gene isolation and pre-breeding platform for improved heat tolerance and sustainable production
    UK investigator: Professor Greenland, National Institute of Agricultural Botany
    Indian investigator: Dr Sarinder Kaur, Punjab Agricultural University    
  2. Rapid identification of disease resistance genes from plant genomes by resistance gene enrichment sequencing (RenSeq) of EMS-derived susceptible mutants
    UK investigator: Dr Brande B H Wulff, The Sainsbury Laboratory, University of East Anglia
    Indian investigator: Dr Parveen Chhuneja, Punjab Agricultural University
  3. Developing Genetics and Genomics Interface to Develop Strategies For Sustainable Use of Resistance to White Rust In Oilseed Mustard (Brassica juncea)
    UK investigator: Professor Eric Holub, University of Warwick
    Indian investigator: Dr Deepak Pental, University of Delhi
  4. Combining field phenotyping and next generation genetics to uncover markers, genes and biology underlying drought tolerance in wheat
    UK investigator: Dr Anthony Hall, University of Liverpool, UK
    Indian investigator: Dr Pradeep Sharma, Crop Improvement (Plant Biotechnology), Directorate of Wheat Research (ICAR), Karnal
  5. Genomics-assisted selection of Solanum chilense introgression lines for enhancing drought resistance in tomatoes
    UK investigator: Dr Andrew Thompson, Cranfield University
    Indian investigator: Dr H.C Prasanna, Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi
  6. Broadening the genetic diversity underpinning seed quality and yield traits in mustard rape and oilseed rape
    UK investigator: Dr Ian Bancroft, University of York
    Indian investigator: Dr Akshay Pradhan, Delhi University, South Campus
  7. Detoxed grass pea: sustainable sustenance for stressful environments
    UK investigator: Dr Cathie Martin, John Innes Centre (JIC)
    Indian investigator: Dr Jayanta Tarafdar, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, West Bengal

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This higher research degree is associated with our Environment Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). The Environment DTC provides a focal point for engagement and academic discussion for all students involved in environmentally-related research at Cranfield. It aims to encourage an effective and vibrant research culture, founded upon the diversity of activities and knowledge relating to the sector which characterise our research portfolio.

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