News

Plant Day success

On Thursday 21st July, some 30 researchers from IIB whose research focuses on the biology of plants and photosynthetic organisms gathered for a day of scientific presentations and discussions. Fourteen postdoc and PhD student speakers presented their latest results, ranging all the way from the orchid mycorrhizal symbiosis, cyanobacterial carboxysomes and photosynthetic assemblies, and the functional genomics of desert-adapted plants, to advanced wheat breeding via GWAS, QTLs and epigenomics, standardised synthetic biology “parts” for plant circadian biology, plant metabolomics, and UK cyberinfrastructure for plant bioinformatics.

The day was wrapped up by external speaker Dr. Geraint Parry who spoke about the UK Arabidopsis network and various large, UK-wide endeavours to develop tools and facilities to underpin future advances in the plant sciences. There were excellent question and answer sessions and a very productive final discussion that provided whole-hearted support for future group activities. More plant-focussed meetings will follow soon.


Liverpool scientist awarded Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award 

An enterprising University of Liverpool scientist has received the prestigious Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award. Dr Paul Myers co-founded Farm Urban, an eco start-up company that aims to link leading scientific research with local food production, while studying for his PhD in epigenetics two years ago.

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£1.8m to explore how species cope with climate change 

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Integrative Biologyhas been awarded £1.8 million to help discover how well species can adapt to environmental change caused by human disturbance.

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Postcard: Professor Alan McCarthy in Georgia

Professor Alan McCarthy, from the University's Institute of Integrative Biology, recently visited the University of Georgia in the United States.

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Postcard: Wheat sampling in Mexico 

Dr Ryan Joynson is a postdoctoral researcher at the University’s Institute of Integrative Biology, based within the Centre for Genomic Research.

“I recently undertook a field research trip to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Obregón, Mexico with my colleague Dr Laura Gardiner. The trip was the first phase of an International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) research grant working towards exploitation of phenotypic variation in photosynthetic efficiency to increase wheat yield, which is led by Professor . Increasing wheat yield is a key priority for food security"

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True Cost of Food Debated at Liverpool Conference

When it comes to the food we eat, who profits, who pays and what needs to change? These were the topics tackled at the recent 2016 Sustainable Food Cities Conference, which was held at the University of Liverpool. This year’s conference, organised by the Soil AssociationLiverpool Food Peopleand Dr Iain Young, brought together more than 150 delegates from academia, government, industry and the third sector to share ideas and experiences.

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Illuminating the Inner ‘Machines’ That Give Bacteria an Energy Boost

Dr Luning Liu, in collaboration with other researchers such as Steve Barrett from the Department of Physics have tracked how microscopic organisms called cyanobacteria make use of internal protein ‘machines’ to boost their ability to convert carbon dioxide into sugar during photosynthesis.With global food and energy security one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, the new findings could help inform the design and engineering of new nanotechnologies to improve crop yields and biomass production.

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The paper: “Light modulates the biosynthesis and organization of cyanobacterial carbon fixation machinery through photosynthetic electron flow” is published in Plant Physiology (Plant Physiology, 2016, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1104/pp.16.00107).


Explainer: Think ‘sustainable’ for Good Friday fish meals

As people started to think about fish based meals for their Good Friday celebrations, Dr Iain Young explained why promoting sustainable fishing is so important.

“The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations tell us that more than 50% of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited and, at least, a further 30% are over fished. Unsustainable fishing not only threatens the availability of fish stocks, but it can also impact endangered species, habitats and the other species in the marine food chain, damaging the whole ocean ecosystem. The Marine Stewardship Council is an international, non-profit organisation that sets standards for sustainable fisheries – protecting fish stocks and the marine environment. Their certification with the MSC Blue Fish-tick label shows that the fish you are buying comes from a sustainable source. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) has a similar certification and labelling role for responsibly farmed fish."

To learn more about the fish you are eating and to help us protect global food sources, visit: www.goodfishguide.org.


New Insight into Construction of Bacterial Microcompartments

IB scientists have used state-of-the-art microscopy to capture the dynamic self-assembly of proteins from tiny bacterial structures, known as bacterial microcompartments (BMCs), which play an important role in metabolism.

The research, which features as the cover article in this week’s Nano Letters, opens up a whole new way of exploring inner-cell architecture and functionality, and could help revolutionise the future of protein-based nanomaterial design and drug delivery in human medicine. 

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Molecular movie opens door to new cancer treatments

An international team of scientists led by Professor Samar Hasnain and Svetlana Antonyuk has produced a ‘structural movie’ revealing the step-by-step creation of an important naturally occurring chemical in the body that plays a role in some cancers. The international team, which includes researchers from the Center for Cooperative Research in Biosciences, Spain, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, used X-ray crystallography to successfully unravel how the catalytic subunit MATα2 synthesises SAMe, with details of every atom’s location and behaviour as the synthesis takes place.

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The ‘protein economy’ – it’s not only about the size of the account, but also the credits and debits

Bank vole

Researchers from the Institute’s Centre for Proteome Research(CPR) and the Mammalian Behaviour and Evolution Group have pioneered research into the measurement of protein turnover, the process whereby a protein is continually synthesised and degraded – an apparently wasteful process. Moreover, the smaller the mammal, the higher the rate of protein turnover. This seems counterintuitive, but it is possible that the energy consumed by turnover allows a small mammal, with a high surface area to volume ratio, to generate enough heat for maintain body temperature.

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Postcard: Genomics (and margaritas) in San Diego

Dr Laura Gardiner recently visited the Plant and Animal Genome XXIV Conference (PAG), held in San Diego, California, with her colleagues Professor , Professor , Dr Alistair Darby, Dr Christiane Hertz-Fowler and Dr Ryan Joynson.

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Genetic diversity helps to limit infectious disease

Genetic diversity helps to reduce the spread of diseases by limiting parasite evolution, according to new research from the University of Liverpool.

The idea that host diversity can limit disease outbreaks is not new. For example, crop monocultures in agriculture – which lack genetic diversity – can suffer severe disease outbreaks that sweep through the entire population. But why is this?

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