Research bodies combine to develop better brassicas

A new five-year, £4.4million project intended to yield more resilient brassica crops begins this month.

Østergaard - image: John Innes Centre
Østergaard - image: John Innes Centre

The value of the UK's oilseed rape and vegetable brassica crops is put at over £1billion a year, but these suffer losses of up to £230 million, mainly due to increasingly unfavourable and unpredictable weather.

Funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Brassica, Rapeseed and Vegetable Optimisation (BRAVO) research programme aims to combat these losses by unravelling the processes that control key aspects of plant development, which will help develop new, more resilient crop varieties.

Led by Professor Lars Østergaard of the John Innes Centre (JIC), it brings together expertise from three research institutes (JIC, Rothamsted Research and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences) and four universities (Bath, Nottingham, Warwick, York) together with representatives from the oilseed and horticulture industries.

Østergaard said: "By unravelling and exploring the processes behind important genetic traits in crops, we will provide a basis for the development of improved brassica crops that reduce losses and withstand changes in climate and environmental conditions."

The project will also support the training of young scientists and raise industry stakeholder awareness of new developments through workshops in brassica genetics, genomics, phenotyping and modelling.

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