Recent Activity

Pollination in Nepal in a changing climate

Helen Harper

A new project studying the effect of climate change on pollinators has been funded. Three quarters of crop species rely on pollinators but the service they provide is under increasing threat from climate change. Loss of diversity and declining numbers of pollinators is predicted to compromise agricultural systems, and in turn, affect human health as key dietary micronutrients (such as vitamin A and folate) from insect pollinated crops are lost from diets. 

This interdisciplinary project is led by University of Bristol’s Professor Jane Memmott and  includes three Co-Investigators two medical researchers, Dr Samuel Myers and Dr Mathew Smith from Harvard University and a climate change specialist from the University of Helsinki, Professor Tomas Roslin.   Collaborators include health scientists from an NGO in Nepal, HERD Internationale (Dr Sushil Baral & Dr Chandani Kharel)along with collaborators from UCL (Dr Naomi Saville), the London School of Tropical Medicine (Dr Helen Harris-Fry) and the Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu (Dr Daya Ram Bhusal).   The Bristol based Post-Doctoral Researcher is Dr Tom Timberlake. 

The project is funded by The Belmont Forum with additional support from BCAI.


Plant and Agricultural Sciences Fellowships at Bristol

Helen Harper

The Bristol Centre for Agricultural Innovation (BCAI) is offering an additional £50,000 to boost project funding for three individuals that are awarded mid-career Independent Research Fellowships at Bristol (such as BBSRC Discovery Fellowships & David Phillips Fellowships, Royal Society University Research Fellowships or UKRI Future Leader Fellowships). Those applying for earlier-career fellowships are eligible for an additional £5,000 of research funding, from BCAI, following a successful fellowship award.  Proposed research must fall within the remit of BCAI to be eligible for this additional funding (

At Bristol, we benefit from excellent facilities and host a vibrant group of plant and agricultural scientists. Further information about plant and agricultural research at Bristol can be found at  and information on current fellows and the support we offer:

To be considered for BCAI and departmental support, prospective fellowship candidates are required to submit an expression of interest to by 17th September 2019. Your application should consist of your CV, a covering letter (indicating which fellowship you wish to apply for and confirmation that you are eligible) and a research plan (up to 2 pages). We will select and invite candidates with potential to visit the department in October/November. Please contact Dr Helen Harper for any informal enquiries. We look forward to hearing from you.


BCAI undergraduate summer student 2018

Helen Harper

Fiona Belbin and Dr Helen Harper were awarded funds to employ a University of Bristol undergraduate student to conduct a 10-week summer placement in the labs in life sciences and in collaboration with Bristol vertical farming company LettUs Grow. Biology undergraduate Jess Bowers-Martin conducted research into the effects of photoperiod length upon growth, circadian rhythms and photosynthetic efficiency of lettuce in a vertical farming context.  “The opportunity to conduct independent research with the support of experts in the field has been invaluable to me, I have learnt so much during the course of the placement. I have particularly enjoyed researching the applications of vertical farming for addressing food security concerns and having the opportunity to plan my own research. Working with LettUs Grow and witnessing their passion has inspired me to pursue postgraduate study of plant science.” – Jess "The undergraduate project and associated support from the university has been hugely helpful. The hard work done by Jess has allowed us to accelerate our research program and she has been a fantastic colleague over the last few months. We are very excited to continue to build a relationship with Antony Dodd's lab and the University in the future."– Billy Rodgers, plant research at LettUs Grow. Jess has been supervised by Fiona Belbin, Dr Antony Dodd and Dr Helen Harper. This work was supported by the Bristol Centre for Agricultural Innovation and LettUs Grow.


Signal transduction and circadian regulation under natural conditions

Dora Cano-Ramirez and Dr Antony Dodd

BCAI have supported me to travel to the laboratory of collaborator Prof. Hiroshi Kudoh at the Center for Ecological Research in Kyoto University to perform deep analysis of a cell signalling pathway under natural conditions. The reason why we conducted this work was to gain new insights into how a signalling pathway that we identified in the laboratory functions under natural conditions. This is important to begin to translate processes studied in the laboratory that underpin plant survival into an agricultural context, to identify new candidate mechanisms for enhancing crop production.


Gene Editing Workshop

Beth Eldridge and Ashley Pridgeon

Over the 26-27th March, researchers from around the globe gathered at the University of Bristol for the GARNet Plant Gene Editing workshop, sponsored by BCAI and the New Phytologist Trust. At this workshop, attendees eagerly discussed topics relating to gene editing; these discussions not only encompassed the nitty-gritty details of how to edit stubborn plants (monocots and dicots alike!) but also novel uses of genetically-modified plants and the policies concerning their regulation. Alongside these discussions, researchers got the opportunity to view an array of scientific posters that sparked fruitful conversations.

Read the full article here.

PI         Title     Date RequestedAmount
Gary Foster BCAI Network Team October 2019 £50,410
Kerry Franklin Understanding the transcriptional regulation of PIF transaction factors by environmental signals October 2019 £21,727
Sean Rands Floral thermal biology in a changing environment October 2019 £22,569
Gary Barker Equipment for BBSRC Follow on Funding on a core collection of wheat markers October 2019 £20,616
Tim Caro Intercations between Clove Production, Species Diversity in Clove Pots and Biodiversity October 2019 £9814
Tom Pitman, / Anthony Crawford Horticultural Staffing levels in Greenhouse facilities October 2019 £45,283
Lucia Primavesi Equipment matters - the key to a good experiment July 2019 £2556
Lucia Primavesi Getting the most out of chlorophyll July 2019 £1989.21
Guilda Varliero Exploring new sequencing technology for agricultural research July 2019 £24,974
Jane Memmott Pollination in Nepal in a changing climate July 2019  
Keith Edwards / Gary Barker / Helen Harper Assessing the diversity of UK apples with the Bristol set of single nucleotide Polymorphic markers April 2019 £14,660
Ulrike Bauer / Helen Harper Interdisciplinary Plant Wax Research Workshop April 2019 £1486.80
Jill Harrison / Ken Birnbaum FASEB Mechanisms in Pplant development meeting 2019 April 2019 £2560
Jill Harrison / Keith Edwards / Sophie Carpenter Intercepting CLAVATA function to engineer larger ears in wheat April 2019 £19,926.92
Rox Middleton Why are blueberries blue? April 2019 £17,165
Dr Helen Harper Raising the profile of BCAI: annual budget for publicity material and workshops Januray 2019 £5,000
Mr Tom Swift The optimisation and field trials of carbon dots to enhance yields for a diverse range of crop in partnership with Beanstalk Agritech January 2019 £23,411
Dr Lucia Primavesi Updating and streamlining small autoclave equipment in Plant Sciences January 2019 £3,417.99
Dr Sally Hobson / Miss Maggie Gamble Replacement of Validated Waste Autoclave January 2019 £15,546.60
Dr Lucia Primavesi Updating and streamlining DNA electrophoresis equipment in Plant Sciences October 2018 £1,881
Professor Innes Cuthill The role of gloss in plant-pollinator signalling October 2018 £18,224
Dr Sally Hobson Replacement 40 x objective for confocal microscope October 2018 £5,398.80
Dr Lucia Primavesi Provision of specialist training to support and enhance the use of Wolfson Photosynthesis Suite October 2018 £1,100
Dr Imogen Sparkes Plant organellar 'roadmap' tool October 2018 £66,434
Dr Jill Harrison Fundamental requirements for branching in plants October 2018 £46,248
Dr Heather Whitney Bee Friendly Photonics June 2018 £44,913
Professor Kerry Franklin Controlling plant architecture in canopy shade June 2018 £14,212
Dr Antony Dodd Manipulating of chloroplast transcriptions to enhance horticulture June 2018 £46,633
Professor Keith Edwards Understanding & archiving the genetic diversity of long ashton research station cider apples June 2018 £11,338
Dr Tom Oliver Understanding the Influence of Carbon Nanoparticles in Enhancing Crop Yield June 2018 £25,559
Miss Dora Cano-Ramirez Signal transduction and circadian regulation under natural conditions April 2018 £2,500
Professor Nicholas Roberts, Dr Lauren Sumner-Rooney Lights Out: How anthropogenic light pollution affects the migration of crop pests April 2018 £38,932.41
Dr Andy Bailey Upgrade to LCMS facilities to support discovery of novel crop protection agents February 2018 £19,040
Dr Jon Bridle  Roots and shoots: Genetic variation & plasticity in root investment and its consequences for shoot growth along an elevational and soil type gradient February 2018 £14,500
Professor Jane Memmott Ecosystem service provision in upland farming systems February 2018 £9,860
Dr Anthony Dodd, Professor Gary Foster, Professor Keith Edwards

Bristol Plant Sciences Facilitator - Funding renewal

February 2018 £57,025
Christos Ioannou

Automated monitoring of fish from video in aquaculture systems

February 2018 £10,011.85
Dr Sally Hobson

Upgrade of PC and software controlling the Life Sciences Confocal Scanning Microscope

October 2017 £4,500
Professor Keith Edwards A genome editing facility for the School of Biological Sciences October 2017 £93,382
Professor Gareth Jones Effective pollination of farmed tequila plants October 2017 £7,000
Dr Hannah Rose

Agricultural production on the Asian steppe: limitations to sustainable intensifi-cation

October 2017 £9,025
Dr Jill Harrison Emergency Autoclave bid April 2017 £21,740.40
Dr Antony Dodd, Dr Heather Whitney and Professor Alistair Hetherington Emergency repair to the infra-red gas analyser in Wolfson Photosynthesis Suite April 2017 £2,700
Dr Helen Harper Plant and Agricultural Sciences Fellowship Day April 2017 £4,620
Dr Katherine Baldock Improving lawns and grassland for insect pollinators April 2017 £5,570
Professor Gary Foster and  Dr Andy Bailey Biocontrol of Armillaria - PhD Studentship with RHS spread over 3 years April 2017 £43,251
Mr Tom Pitman Replacement of 2 Purite units in GroDome and OPH greenhouses April 2017 £5,540
Professor Alistair Hetherington Mitigating the effects of anthropogenic increases in atmospheric CO2 on wheat grain Fe and Zn by increasing stomatal transpiration December 2016 £8,900
Dr Heather Whitney Plant and Crop Phenomics Facility Pilot December 2016 £28,051
Professor Jane Memmott Barcoding parasitoids in agricultural grasslands December 2016 £9,566
Dr Sacha Przewieslik-Allen Monogram 2017 contribution to Annual Workshop December 2016 £5,000
Professor Keith Edwards Creation of a transcription factor library of genome edited wheat plants December 2016 £9,750
Mr Anthony Crawford and Mr Tom Pitman  Contingency plan in the event of a catastrophic heating failure in the LSB GroDome December 2016 £1,500
Mr Anthony Crawford Replacement of -80 freezers for LSB December 2016 £8,000
Professor Keith Edwards Equipment that will enhance the Facilities capacity to undertake large genomics-based projects December 2016 £10,000
Mr Donald Fraser Innovations in Plant Science to Feed a Changing World December 2016 £4,881
Dr Katherine Baldock & Dr Gregory Sutton Understanding the effect of power lines on local plants and pollinators December 2016


Dr Marian Yallop & Dr Gary Barker Solutions to Taste and Odour Problems in UK Drinking Waters (STOP) November 2016 £10,642

Past BCAI Activity

You can find all of the past projects that BCAI have supported here (PDF, 342kB)

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