£1.2M funding award to Sarah McKim

Published on 15 December 2023

Dr Sarah McKim and collaborators have been awarded £1.165M from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to study a feature of cereal plants what can help improve crops.

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Sarah, a Principal Investigator in the Division of Plant Sciences based at the James Hutton Institute said, “To sustainably meet food demands, we need to increase cereal grain yields without using more land and water, all the while facing accelerating climate change. Our research will learn how features on the outer layer or epidermis of cereal plants can help improve crops.”

“The epidermis has a waxy coating to prevent water loss and reflect sunlight, and many different types of cells, such as adjustable gas pores and hairs, which control how plants interact with the atmosphere.”

“We will use cutting edge approaches to understand the epidermis at unprecedented resolution and learn more about the genes which control these features and how these features combine to impact cereal performance under different climates. Taken together, our research will deliver a step-change in our ability to engineer epidermal features to future-proof our crops.”

Partners on the project are Dr Chiara Campoli from the James Hutton Institute, Professor Tracy Lawson from University of Essex and Dr James Cockram from the National Institute of Agricultural Botany. The project will run for three years.

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