37 fellows from 9 African nations to combat climate change

 

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Copyright: Panos

New research fellows to combat climate change in Africa

by Samuel Hinneh

Speed read

  • The CIRCLE programme has selected 37 fellows from nine African nations
  • They will conduct climate change R&D outside their home institutions for a year
  • An expert urges them to consider studying biodiversity conservation

A programme is building the capacity of African researchers to understand climate change impacts and develop evidence-based solutions to help policymakers tackle climate change challenges.

The Climate Impact Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement (CIRCLE) fellowship – an initiative by the African Academy of Sciences and Association of Commonwealth Universities – seeks to help early-career researchers undertake research to address climate change in Africa.

The five-year, £4.85 million (almost US$ 6 million) programme funded by the UK’s Department for International Development has selected 37 researchers from about 100 applications as visiting fellows, according to Benjamin Gyampoh, CIRCLE programme manager.

“There is a research uptake component where the researchers are supported to identify the key stakeholders of their work.”

Benjamin Gyampoh, CIRCLE programme

The third cohort of fellows are from 25 universities and research institutes based in  nine countries –Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The fellows attended an induction workshop last month (10-12 February) in Kenya.

The 25 institutions nominated the researchers to the programme, and their applications went through rigorous review processes.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

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A gene that significantly increases seed yield in maize

 

 

New plant research leads to the discovery of a gene that significantly increases seed yield in maize

Date:
March 16, 2017
Source:
VIB – Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology
Summary:
A gene that significantly increases plant growth and seed yield in maize has been discovered by researchers. Research into crop yield is crucial because of the increasing incidence of extreme weather conditions affecting agriculture. The results from laboratory research were confirmed during two-year field trials conducted in Belgium and the United States showing that this gene can increase seed yield in maize hybrids by 10 to 15%.

Researchers from VIB-UGent have discovered a gene that significantly increases plant growth and seed yield in maize. Research into crop yield is crucial because of the increasing incidence of extreme weather conditions affecting agriculture. The results from laboratory research were confirmed during two-year field trials conducted in Belgium and the United States showing that this gene can increase seed yield in maize hybrids by 10 to 15%. The results of the greenhouse and field trials are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Read the full article: Science Daily

To diversify one of the world’s most complex genomes to improve yield quality

 

 

Can we produce a better wheat crop to feed the world? Single to multiple wheat genomics

Date:
January 12, 2017
Source:
Earlham Institute
Summary:
Entering a ‘wheat pan-genomics’ era from single to multiple wheat DNA references, a research team aims to diversify one of the world’s most complex genomes to improve yield quality and increase wider production of this critical food crop.

Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is the UK’s most economically important crop and the world’s most widely cultivated cereal. Wheat production is vital in both emerging and growing economies. Therefore, understanding the genomics of wheat is essential to sustain increased yields for the growing global population, while protecting the crop from common disease epidemics and adaptation to extreme climate change conditions.

The wheat genome has been an enigma to scientists due to its exceptionally large and complex genome. Previously leading a first complete analysis of the bread wheat genome with other BBSRC-funded institutes, EI have now leveraged their genomics advances to work with both industry and research partners to enable the production of a better and more sustainable crop to aid global food security.

From the most sourced plant data reference1 released in November 2015, EI have developed a new method that is influencing industry and academia to further advance the field of wheat genomics into a multi-reference era. Unveiling new genome assemblies for five further wheat varieties presented publicly at PAG, the largest plant and animal genomics global conference, in San Diego, 14 January 2017.

The new wheat analyses came to fruition after delivery of the first wheat reference using the bioinformatics ‘w2rap’ tool for genome assembly developed by Bernardo Clavijo and his Algorithm Development Team at EI. Life science industry leaders Bayer Crop Sciences approached the team to run a pilot project sequencing a commercially significant wheat variety.

Read the full article: Science Daily

The gap between research and practice

 

Journal Reference:

Alexandra N. Kravchenko, Sieglinde S. Snapp, G. Philip Robertson. Field-scale experiments reveal persistent yield gaps in low-input and organic cropping systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2017; 201612311 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1612311114

Addressing the gap between research and practice in sustainable agriculture

Date:
January 18, 2017
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
New research has found a big difference in the yields produced by alternative agricultural practices in commercial fields compared with the same practices in the small experimental plots ordinarily used to test them.

These differences have important implications for closing the global yield gap between research plots and farmer fields, especially for low-input practices adopted by organic farmers in the United States and by resource-strapped farmers in less developed regions.

The study, published in the latest issue of PNAS, compared the yields of a crop rotation of wheat, corn and soybeans under three different management practices: conventional, low-input and organic. The tests were conducted at small experimental plots and the much larger commercial field level. Though researchers found no appreciable difference in the yields produced at either level for conventional crop management, they noted a significant yield gap for both low-input and organic management.

Read the full article : Science Daily

Genes are critical to a plant’s response to drought

 

Study reveals which genes are critical to a plant’s response to drought

Date:
October 25, 2016
Source:
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Summary:
Because plants cannot relocate when resources become scarce, they need to efficiently regulate their growth by responding to environmental cues. Drought is the most important cause of reduced plant growth and crop yield, which makes insights into a plant’s drought response highly valuable to agriculture. A new study has provided major insights into how plants cope with water-limiting conditions, which can direct advanced breeding and genome engineering efforts to create high-performing, drought-tolerant crop plants.

Read the full article: Science Daily

The question of who sets the research agenda remains.

 

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Copyright: Sven Torfinn / Panos

Africa Analysis: Benefits of the restarted R&D alliance

“Many people argue that donors’ influence over health research agendas in Africa remains too strong.” Linda Nordling

Speed read

  • The second phase of Europe-Africa clinical trials partnership has started
  • It could help African countries increase their investment in health R&D
  • African governments need to help sustain the gains to be made

 

The reboot of the Europe-Africa clinical trials alliance could make Africa invest in health R&D, writes Linda Nordling.

In 2010 in Mali’s capital Bamako, representatives from over two dozen African health ministries signed a ‘call for action’ urging their governments to allocate at least two per cent of health ministry budgets toresearch. [1]

The aim of the call was for African governments to take ownership of the research agenda, which at the time was viewed as too driven by international donor priorities.

Nearly a decade on, many people argue that donors’ influence over health research agendas in Africa remains too strong. And the two per cent goal is still a pipe dream.

There is no doubt that African countries have seen increased investment in health research. But with most of this increase coming from international donors, the question of who sets the research agenda remains.

Mechanisms matter

In 2008, after the Bamako meeting, critics condemned the lack of mechanisms in the call of action for its proposed implementation. [2]

But for countries looking for a way to fulfil their two per cent ambition, a reinvented Europe-Africa clinical trials programme offers a vehicle for doing so and for directing international funding towards national priorities.

Read the full story: SciDevNet

Plants retain more moisture in high carbon dioxide conditions, keeping water on land

 

Photo credit: Science Daily

The implications of plants needing less water with more carbon dioxide in the environment changes assumptions of climate change impacts on agriculture, water resources, wildfire risk, and plant growth, say scientists.
Credit: © yommy / Fotolia

Climate change has less impact on drought than previously expected

Source: University of California – Irvine

Summary: As a multiyear drought grinds on in the Southwestern United States, many wonder about the impact of global climate change on more frequent and longer dry spells. As humans emit more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, how will water supply for people, farms, and forests be affected?

Read the full article: Science Daily