University of Dundee

Plant Research at CLS attracts over 1 million pounds in funding from the BBSRC

01 Apr 2009

Research at the College of Life Sciences into how plants respond to changes in environmental conditions and stress has been boosted by research grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) totalling over £1 million.

Professor John Brown, of the Division of Plant Sciences, has been awarded three grants to support his research into a process called `alternative splicing’ in plants and production of mRNA, one of the `building blocks’ of life.

The research could have implications for our understanding of how plants and crops adapt to climate change.

Alternative splicing is a process by which individual genes can produce several different proteins. The process is well known in humans, where mutations in alternative splicing can cause a number of diseases including various cancers and brain and muscle disorders.

“Understanding this genetic activity will give us an insight into why certain plants react better to changes in their environmental conditions and the stresses that places upon them,” said Professor Brown.

“This is an area which is receiving more and more attention in plant sciences and is likely to continue to do so as we look to deal with the effects of climate change.”

Professor Brown’s laboratory is sited at the Scottish Crop Research Institute, in Invergowrie, just outside Dundee. The BBSRC grants will support his team of three post-doctoral researchers and help provide technical assistance for the next three years.

The research projects will see Professor Brown’s team linking with colleagues across Europe.

“One of the grants in particular is very exciting as it comes under the auspices of ERA-PG (European Research Area – Plant Genomics) which supports trans-national funding within Europe, and allows us to continue long-standing collaborations with labs in Austria, Israel and Poland,” said Professor Brown.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £420 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.