UK Government Funds New National Plant Phenotyping Network
Technology Touching Life is a joint initiative between the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) that aims to harness new and emerging developments from the engineering and physical sciences to advance discovery research in the life sciences. The initiative recently announced six network awards, with a total value of £3M, including a new national network in crop phenotyping.
PhenomUK, a network led by Professors Tony Pridmore (UoN) and Malcolm Hawkesford (Rothamsted Research), aims to:
- ensure that UK scientists have access to the technological capabilities needed to drive world-leading basic discovery research in the plant, crop and agricultural sciences, and
- provide the deeper understanding of national plant phenotyping capabilities, needs and opportunities required to allow the UK to gain maximum benefit from international initiatives such as EMPHASIS.
The network will be multidisciplinary, encouraging engineering, physical and computer scientists to work alongside plant biologists to develop automation, sensor and data analysis technologies that can profile plants in a variety of environments. PhenomUK’s £500K budget will provide the usual networking activities – an annual UK conference on Crop Phenotyping, web presence and issue-based and outreach workshops – but also includes funds with which the network will support pilot projects and feasibility studies examining the potential of emerging technologies in crop phenotyping.
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