biodiversity

GMO ERA Project

Picture of cotton being pickedIn  agricultural and natural environments, GM crops and their transgene products will come into contact with hundreds of non-target species that have important ecological functions.

The GMO ERA Project is a pioneering initiative driven by public sector scientists from many countries to develop tools to support environmental risk assessment (ERA) of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The aim is to give decision makers the tools and training to help them decide what information and data are most important and appropriate for an ERA that is tailored to the GM crop and agricultural system in their country and region.

To date the project has examined case studies on Bt maize in Kenya, Bt cotton in Brazil and Bt cotton in Vietnam. The project is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, IOBC Global, national ministries and several other funders. A steering committee for Phase I and II of the project were responsible for making key decisions.

Plants and plant communities

Photograph of happy field workers sampling plantsResearch in Plants and Plant Communities aims to define those properties of crops and arable plants that would maintain yield and the purity of yield while reducing the environmental footprint of cropping. The work includes basic studies of plant processes such as germination, flowering and nutrition, genetic and physiological variation in model crops and arable plants, the ecology of plant (seedbank) communities, plants as the base of the arable food web and models of geneflow, selection and evolution. The practical output will be combinations of plant traits that can be targeted in crop improvement or encouraged by agronomy. Disciplines and methods include plant physiology, genetics, statistics, modelling, microscopy and field survey.

Agroecology News Archive

Ecological roles of weeds In an invited plenary talk, Geoff Squire represented the group's ideas on the roles of weeds at the XIII Colloque International sur la Biologie des Mauvaises Herbes held at Dijon, France 8-10 September 2009. The main points of the talk were: weeds have been with us in northern Europe for more than 5000 years - we haven't got rid of them; so we need to understand them better, spend less trying to remove them and make use of their positive roles in the ecosystem. Arable cropping in Scotland is already some way towards coexisting with weeds: its cereal yields and weed seedbanks are both among the highest in the UK!  (Added 14 September 2009)

Publications archive

Refereed publications and major reports from the Agroecology group

Newton, A.C., Begg, G.S., Swanston, J.S. 2008. Deployment of diversity for enhanced crop function. Annals of Applied Biology (doi:10.1111/j.1744-7348.2008.00303.x).

Monocultures are used in high-input systems to maximise short term profitability, but over time yield and quality can become unstable. This paper considers how diversity can be reintroduced to cropping systems to confer stability without compromising quality. It combines expertise between three of SCRI's programmes: Pathology (ACN), Genetics (JSS) and Environment (GSB).

Squire, G.R., Hawes, C., Begg, G.S., Young, M.W. 2009. Cumulative impact of GM herbicide-tolerant cropping on arable plants assessed through species-based and functional taxonomies. Environmental Science and Pollution Research 16(1), 85-94. Published online 2 December 2008 (doi: 10.1007/s11356-008-0072-6).

Genetics

The Genetics Programme contains around 90 staff, a figure that includes four fully integrated research groups from the Division of Plant Sciences University of Dundee. Our work focuses on the genetics of three groups of crops, potatoes, soft fruits and barley, associated with a number of research activities that incorporate work and/or information from model species. A dedicated bioinformatics capability underpins all of our activities and we maintain strong interactions with Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland who provide analytical expertise and statistical rigour to work throughout the programme. Genetics scientific management is currently based on five research themes that reflect our main areas of activity.

 

Link to the Biodiversity pageBiodiversity (Leader: Joanne Russell)

We are investigating the link between sequence variation, recombination and linkage disequilibrium and quantifying biological diversity of native and endangered species.

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