HAS Research Blog


Just showing posts with the tag plant science

Bio-Sensing Technology Series: Microbial detection and biocontrol 

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Welcome to the third article in our Bio-Sensing Technology series, looking at microbial detection and biocontrol. This technology is led by Dr Darren Reynolds and we ask him to tell us a bit more about his research.

So what is microbial detection and biocontrol? What are the benefits and applications?
Microbial Detection and Biocontrol methods can be developed to ensure effective safeguarding of human health within environmental, healthcare and agri-food processes. Microbial detection and biocontrol technology platforms have been developed for a range of industrial and biomedical applications in collaboration with academia, business and enterprise.

Applied microbiological modelling and bio-photonics techniques (including low-light imaging, hyperspectral imaging and spectro-fluorometry) are used for the quantitative analysis and spectroscopic interrogation of biological processes.

Can you give us some examples of projects where the paramagnetic particle-based detection system has been used?

Electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS)
Due to the limitations associated with the use of existing biocidal agents, there is a need to explore new methods of decontamination to help maintain effective bioburden control, especially within the healthcare environment. ECAS have been shown to have broad spectrum antimicrobial activity and have the potential to be widely adopted due to low cost raw material requirements, ease of production and biocompatibility. The institute has expertise in the development and deployment of these novel biocides, including research undertaken in biodefence, biocontrol and food quality and safety.

Water quality sensors
In collaboration with industry, cutting edge deployable optical sensors for water quality monitoring based on fluorescence spectroscopy are being developed. These sensors can be deployed and left in situ for extended periods enabling online real-time water quality monitoring.

Bacteriophage (viruses that infect bacteria)
Bacteriophages are perhaps the most predominant biological entities in the biosphere and have great potential as antimicrobial agents within clinical and industrial settings. Real-time detection technologies based on bioluminescent bacterial reporters are utilised to screen for and determine the efficacy of, newly discovered bacteriophages for use within clinical, food safety and agricultural applications.

Non-thermal plasma
Non-thermal plasma is generated by electric discharge excitation producing a neutral ionised gas. This novel technology has known antimicrobial properties and is being evaluated in collaboration with industrial partners for various decontamination applications.

Lead researchers: Dr Darren Reynolds, University of the West of England

For more information about Microbial Detection and Biocontrol, please visit the Centre for Research in Biosciences website.

UK/China workshop: Innovative Technologies for the Food Industry, 21 - 22 July 

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UWE is hosting a 2-day workshop on Innovative Technologies for the Food Industry organised by the Centre for Research in Biosciences, the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the China Agricultural University.

As  part of a BBSRC China partnering award, this workshop aims to bring together the UK and Chinese academia, industry, policymakers and other stakeholders in order to combine effort in addressing important issues of development, evaluation and taking to international market novel and rapid technologies for the food industry. Particular emphasis will be placed on cost-effective technologies for the detection of environmental pollutants in animal feed and animal-derived food.

The workshop will include presentations, poster sessions, industry exhibition and group discussions. There will be opportunity for networking, developing project ideas, exploring funding opportunities and discussing long-term collaboration between UK and Chinese academia and industry.

Click here for more information and to register

Sustainability research: Decontaminating radioactive soil using plants 

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Dr Neil Willey from the Centre for Research in Plant Science has published an article that investigates how plants could be used to help decontaminate radioactive soil. The research, which was published in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, examines factors affecting the plant uptake of the radioactive isotope Technetium-99 (99Tc) from soil.

The process of using plants to remove decontaminants from soil is known as phytoremediation. Certain plant species can extract undesirable elements from soil through their roots and store them so that they can be removed from an environment by harvesting the plants. This process has been used to clean up soils contaminated with many substances including heavy metals such as zinc or nickel and can also be used to remove radioactive substances such as 99Tc. Technetium-99 is a key component of nuclear waste, produced in large quantities from nuclear fission of uranium. A large amount of 99Tc is to be buried in nuclear waste stores but this has raised concerns about the likelihood of the 99Tc coming into contact with water and being leached out of storage, potentially contaminating foodchains. Dr Willey’s journal article investigates the inter-species effects in soil to plant transfer of 99Tc.

Speaking about the significance of the research Dr Willey said that, “Using plants to remove radioactive contaminants from soils does not dramatically disturb the landscape and is relatively cheap compared to engineering-based technologies such as removing topsoil for storage in landfill.” As the global nuclear industry continues to expand it’s becoming more and more important to be able to accurately predict the behaviour of waste products in terrestrial environments and this research will help us to understand which species might become contaminated and which species might be useful in phytoremediation.

For more information contact Dr Neil Willey

From bytes to bites 

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As an initiative between, Bristol Institute of Technology (BIT) and the Centre for Research in Plant Science (CRIPS) a joint research focused workshop took place on 29th June 2010. The workshop From Bytes to Bites hosted by the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology (IBST) was aimed at addressing significant challenges of the present day including sustainable food security, sustainable energy production and the management of biodiversity. 

As expressed by the Director of CRIPS Dr. Neil Willey “Meeting these challenges is increasingly dependent on a combination of technology and plant science- BIT & CRIPS might find much productive interaction by focusing on such challenges.”

The aim of this workshop was to informally discuss research activity in BIT and CRIPS and to identify collaboration and project opportunities. The areas of input from BIT included modelling, data analysis/mining and instrument development.

The integration of the two sets of researchers was facilitated by creating interactive group work. This stimulated identification of the key ideas, challenges and the opportunities for the future collaboration.  Dr Janice Kiely, Director of the Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology stated, “The workshop was successful, and we all look forward to see the exciting ideas turning into projects. As this definitely is a great example of bridging the gaps between the two diverse research areas”.

For more information contact Urszula Strzemiecka