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NIAB Appoints Three New Research Scientists

The National Institute of Agricultural Botany has appointed three new research scientists to work on cutting edge projects which could help farmers produce more sustainable crops at a time when feeding the world’s population has become increasingly vital.

The new recruits are Gemma Rose and Dasuni Jayaweera who joined on 1 April, with Harika Akkinepalli starting on 1 May. All are skilled molecular geneticists with Masters degrees and their recruitment demonstrates NIAB’s commitment to expanding its pioneering research projects at its centre in Huntingdon Road, Cambridge.

NIAB on BBC Radio 4

Huw Jones of NIAB, together with Professor Glynis Jones of the University of Sheffield, were interviewed as part of Radio 4's Material World which will be broadcast on Thursday, 10 April 2008 at 4.30pm. The topic of the interview was ‘Cereal Domestication: The Origins of Agriculture'.

Page interview : BBC Radio4 listen again.

For further information please contact Huw Jones

Speeding up marker discovery

NIAB scientists have recently published details of how they have validated a new method of mapping genes which utilises the natural genotypic variation in a large variety collection rather than in crosses between contrasting parents. A paper in the journal of BMC Genetics (to access, click here) describes application of so-called association mapping to the vernalization requirement in barley.

Crop News from the Regions

Cereal trials are generally in good condition with little disease present at all centres. Growth stage varies from a very forward 32 in Hereford from a September sown crop to early tillering from a late sown trial in Kent. Winter barleys and oats are generally Ok and have had their early fungicide and PGR treatments. Spring sowings are now just showing from February or early March drilling.

NIAB Inspiring Next Generation of Young Scientists

NIAB has been helping to inspire the next generation of young scientists. In the last month, three scientists visited schools in the region in support of the national campaign for the Year of Food and Farming.

One of them, Dr Lydia Smith, has also visited a Cambridge school to promote the UK National Science and Engineering Week, working with the University of Cambridge and gave a group of 8-10-year-olds a lesson in genetics and evolution.


A group of leading politicians, including a Shadow Minister, a city MP, Euro-MP and city Mayor, today vowed to support the national Year of Food and Farming campaign after working alongside children and sowing vegetable seeds in Cambridge.

The National Institute of Agricultural Botany, in partnership with Cambridge University Botanic Garden, invited them to sign a pledge which declared: “We champion the Year of Food and Farming and pledge our support to educating young people about how plants grow and provide us with food.”


Advances in crop science can contribute to global food security and mitigate the risks associated with climate change. Today (21 February 2008) NIAB announced major new funding for research on rice genetics that will lead to the creation of climate resistant strains of rice for Africa and Asia.


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