Research underpinning the development of plants and microbes as green factories is focused in the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), based in the Department of Biology at the University of York. Founded in 1999 with the help of a benefaction from the Garfield Weston Foundation, CNAP is an award winning, internationally recognised centre delivering research excellence with impact. A range of research activities are undertaken by around 80 staff and students in a highly distinctive academic environment, led by four professors: Ian Graham (Director), Neil Bruce, Robert Edwards and Simon McQueen-Mason.
Our work is supported by CNAP’s Plant Genome Facility, where dedicated teams focused on key activities use cutting edge technologies including metabolite profiling, bioinformatics and molecular breeding to deliver high throughput data collection, data mining, and screening for improved plant varieties.
A major commitment of CNAP is the development of so called orphan crops. These are under-utilised or neglected crops that have been domesticated through centuries of human selection for their food, feed, fibre, oil and medicinal properties. New molecular breeding technologies can now be applied for the rapid improvement of orphan crops for food and other high value chemical based applications. For example, over the past six years the CNAP Artemisia Research Project has successfully developed new varieties of the medicinal plant Artemisia annua; the primary source of the leading anti-malarial drug artemisinin (www.york.ac.uk/org/cnap/artemisiaproject).
Biorenewables is another major research focus of CNAP, with well-established programmes in industrial biotechnology and bioenergy encompassing areas such as plant oils and high value chemicals for a range of industrial applications, along with projects aimed at biomass development for use as biofuels. Building on the successful CNAP model, the University of York has recently established the Biorenewables Development Centre as a not-for profit company that provides industry with new processes to convert plants and biowastes into high value products (www.biorenewables.org).
CNAP receives support for specific research programmes from a range of sources including the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, EU framework programmes, government departments and industry.
Professor Ian Graham, CNAP Director
We are delighted to announce that the Department of Biology at the University of York will be welcoming three new Plant Biology colleagues in the coming months, including Professor Ian Bancroft, currently at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, who will join CNAP in August 2013. Ian's research is focussed on understanding genome structure, function and evolution in the Brassicaceae, plus the genetic regulation of seed storage lipid accumulation and other traits relevant to sustainability of the UK oilseed rape crop. The other Plant Biology colleagues joining the Department will be Professor Seth Davis and Dr Michael Haydon.
Ian Graham is a finalist in the Social Innovator of the Year category, and was nominated for his work applying molecular breeding approaches to create improved varieties of pharmaceutical crops.
Tiny bugs could supply the enzymes needed for modern bioenergy - Simon McQueen-Mason and Will Eborall of CNAP describe their ongoing research.
CNAP's Neil Bruce leads a new EU funded interdisciplinary training network including academics and industry, aiming to develop enzymatic methods for green oxidation chemistry.
An international team including CNAP researchers begin a new G8 Research Councils Initiative funded project investigating the potential for recovery of precious metals from mine refuse using plants.
Sowing the seeds of hope: feature article in York newspaper, The Press, on the poppy research of Ian Graham and his team.
ITV News interview: CNAP scientists have discovered the key to production of a chemical called noscapine in poppies. Report and interview with Ian Graham.
Researchers from the UK, USA and India led by CNAP begin a major project to develop new strains of rice to to meet challenging weather conditions.
CNAP, Department of Biology, University of York, Wentworth Way, York YO10 5DD, UK