A team of researchers have been awarded £4.5m to research how to futureproof crops against the climate crisis.
Over a quarter of the world is affected by food insecurity and the climate crisis is likely to make this situation worse.
Plant survival relies on the ability to adapt to the environment, which is partly dependent on a quick and reversible process that modifies proteins using a regulator called SUMO.
Previous research has already shown that modifying key proteins in plants can help them to survive and flourish in harsh environments.
The team of researchers will use this funding to further understand what triggers SUMO and how it helps plants to adapt.
By understanding SUMO, the researchers hope to be able to edit the code to develop crops that are futureproofed against the climate crisis and crop production shortages.
Lead author of the study, Professor Andy Jones from the University of Liverpool said: ‘This major interdisciplinary project is pioneering new approaches for generating different types of high-throughput data to understand how plants respond to stress, down to the single-cell level.
‘Liverpool is leading the strategy for interpreting and integrating this data and building web-based software so that other research groups can view and access the vast data sets that will be created.’
Professor Ari Sadanandom from Durham University added: ‘This investment will allow us to decipher the ‘SUMO code ’and determine how it programs cellular processes to adapt plant growth and development to different environmental stresses including water availability, salt and pathogens.’
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