Last week, at Review of the Year, Professor Julian Bow presented the annual School Prizes. The awards recognise excellence by members of the School in research and public engagement.
A University of Dundee academic has been awarded more than £600,000 to study an increasing problem with the cereal crop barley that impacts the commercially important malting process and the shelf-life of animal feed.
Dr Sarah McKim, a School of Life Sciences researcher based at the James Hutton Institute, was awarded a BBSRC research grant to investigate the unfavourable trait, called ‘skinning’, and to develop tools to track it in breeding populations.
Senga Robertson, a PhD student from the Bulgarelli lab in Plant Sciences, won the Wellcome Trust Plutonium Zone in the national science communication competition ‘I’m A Scientist, Get Me Out of Here!’
This project will investigate the molecular underpinnings of hull adhesion on the barley grain, a trait crucial for downstream uses of barley in malting and food. Barley grain has two extremes: where the hulls stick firmly to the seed wall (the pericarp) and ‘naked’, where hulls shed free. However, hulls can also partially shed or ‘skin’ which is an undesirable trait for grain destine for the malting industry. In covered barley, the pericarp secretes a “cementing layer” onto its surface to stick to the inner hull. Naked barley lacks this layer.
A cereal crop’s architecture has a huge impact on how much grain is produced and how easily it can be harvested from the field. Thus, from the earliest farmers onwards, we have bred crops to have architectural traits associated with higher yield, such as increased grain size and reduced height.
A PhD student at the University of Dundee and James Hutton Institute has been selected as Young Plant Scientist 2018 in the fundamental research category by the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO).
Shumei Wang, based at the Institute’s Cell and Molecular Sciences group, has discovered a new pathway involved in infection by Phytophthora infestans, the pathogen responsible for potato late blight. Her work significantly improves the understanding of plant-pathogen interactions and may open new possibilities in the development of defence strategies.