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. Research is undertaken by around 80 staff and students in a highly distinctive academic environment, led by four professors: Ian Bancroft, Neil Bruce, Ian Graham and Simon McQueen-Mason (CNAP Director).
Biorenewables are a 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. We routinely use molecular breeding technologies for the rapid improvement of both domesticated and wild species 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).
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 2008- 2013 (Professor Simon McQueen-Mason took over as CNAP Director from 1st January 2014)
A consortium of scientists including Ian Bancroft of CNAP have found the first genetic clues to help identify trees tolerant to ash dieback. The research was featured on the Radio Four programme Costing the Earth.
A team led by Neil Bruce is in the final of the 2014 BBSRC Innovator of the Year competition in recognition of their work on developing plants to clean up land polluted with explosives.
BBSRC have just announced funding awards for Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB). Two of these will be led by CNAP professors - Plant Biomass Biorefinery Network (Simon McQueen-Mason); High Value Chemicals from Plants Network (Ian Graham).
£10m funding has been awarded for major projects led by CNAP professors. Professor Jackie Hunter, BBSRC's Chief Executive, stated: "This public funding offers long-term support to address major research challenges, while building research capacity in important areas and maximising economic and social benefits for the UK."
BBSRC report a recent discovery by a CNAP team led by Rob Edwards along with colleagues at the University of Durham: the gene AmGSTF1 plays a key role in controlling multi-herbicide resistance in blackgrass and ryegrass.
CNAP scientists led by Ian Graham have found that a regulator gene called SPATULA can control the expression of five other genes known to affect when a seed germinates. A report on the work has just been published in the PNAS journal early online edition.
Researchers in CNAP together with colleagues at the University of Portsmouth and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the USA have determined the structure and function of a key enzyme used by gribble to digest wood. An article by the team has just been published in the journal PNAS.
Important step for improved manufacture of biofuels reported by CNAP team.
Forces News TV interview Neil Bruce on his research into a plant-based solution to clean up soil pollution caused by explosives.
Celebration of world-leading bioscience - BBSRC profiles Simon and his work.
New study by international team offers insights into the underpinning molecular processes of this important crop species.
CNAP Director, Professor Simon McQueen-Mason
CNAP, Department of Biology, University of York, Wentworth Way, York YO10 5DD, UK