01 Apr 2009   |   News

UK sets up national plant, animal and microbe genomics centre

A national centre for sequencing plant, animal and microbial genomes is to be set up by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.


A national centre for sequencing plant, animal and microbial genomes is to be set up by the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), to apply genomics to improve food security, protect agriculture from exotic animal disease and provide gene targets for the development of new antibiotics.

It will also seek to be a centre of excellence in bioinformatics, to ensure that the data generated by its genome studies, and that of other facilities, can be collected and analysed.

The £13.5 million centre, to be based at the John Innes Research Centre in Norwich, will be jointly funded by BBSRC, the regional development agency EEDA and local county and city councils.

A central part of the genome centre’s brief will be to develop the economic

potential of genomics. A business development director will be recruited to exploit commercial opportunities. This, and a commitment to make the facilities available to UK companies, will be managed through a trading subsidiary.

This centre aims to be complementary to the work of other genomics centres in the UK, concentrating on plants, animals and microbes. Individual projects will be selected by an independent scientific advisory board, but future projects could include economically

important organisms such as ryegrass for sustainable bioenergy production, tomatoes, to understand their anti-cancer properties, and sheep, to help farmers develop disease resistant breeds.

Jane Rogers, Director of the centre, said, “Our aim is to give the UK the lead in the sequencing and analysis of scientifically and economically important plants, animals and microbes.”


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