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Food and Energy Security

All articles accepted from 15 January 2013 are published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.  All articles accepted before this date, were published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License.

Cover image for Vol. 5 Issue 1

Edited By: Professor Martin Parry, Rothamsted Research

Online ISSN: 2048-3694

FES Editorial Board

María Patricia Benavides
I am Professor of Plant Biological Chemistry and Soil Biochemistry in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Biochemistry at University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. My research area is around heavy metal stress, polyamine and NO metabolism in plants. The project I am starting work on currently, focuses on posttranslational modifications and the relationship with NO and polyamines. We are trying to elucidate if polyamines are NO producers, if any enzymatic mechanism is involved in this formation as well as the importance of the regulation of NO and polyamines biosynthesis for the tolerance to stress and the impact in plant growth. Another aspect is the study of nitrogen metabolism under heavy metal stress. Another project we are beginning looks at the impact of nanoparticles in growth of plants and bacterias, regarding future uses of nanoparticles in fertilizers, insecticides, etc.

Duncan Cameron
I am an environmental physiologist and my work focuses on the interactions between plants and beneficial soil microbes, specifically mycorrhizal fungi and plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR). My lab uses a combination of physiological (stable and radio isotope tracers) and molecular (metabolomics, proteomics and molecular genetics) methods to study the reciprocal exchnage of resources and inter specific signalling between crop and biofuel plant species and their co-associated microbial symbionts. I am also co-director of the Sheffield University-based P3 centre of excellence for translational agricultural technologies.

Siddharth G. Chatterjee
I have a background in chemical engineering and am currently Associate Professor in the Department of Paper and Bioprocess Engineering at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. I have taught courses on air pollution engineering, water pollution engineering, engineering economics, engineering design, mathematical methods in chemical engineering, ordinary differential equations for engineers and scientists, partial differential equations for engineers and scientists, bioprocess plant design, air quality, thermodynamics and heat transfer, and bioprocess engineering design. I have worked in the areas of hydraulic design of tray and packed towers, hydraulic design of mist eliminators and liquid distributor, process and fluid-flow simulation, air and water pollution control, gas absorption, membrane filtration, adsorption, distillation, renewable energy, moisture transport in paper, evaporative cooling, and autohydrolysis of wood. My research interests are in the areas of philosophy of science, air and water pollution control, alternative energy, heat and mass transfer, separation processes, reaction engineering, mathematical modeling, and simulation. I am co-author of a book titled "When Worlds Unite - East meets West" (SONTA, Kolkata, 2012).

Ann Cuypers
I am conducting research at the Centre for Environmental Ssciences at Hasselt University (Belgium). It is an interdisciplinary research institute focussing on environmental problems from different, complementary angles (biology, chemistry, economics, law). My research topics address the effects of metal stress, herbicides etc. on plant metabolism with special attention to the cellular redox state (model organism: Arabidopsis; crop: rape seed). Oxidative stress is important in stress signaling, but also crop quality that can be strongly affected by environmental problems.

Nigel Halford
I am a Research Leader at Rothamsted Research, the UK’s largest and oldest crop and agricultural research centre. My work concerns the genetics of metabolic regulation in crop plants, how plant metabolism is affected by environmental stresses such as heat and drought and how it can be manipulated to improve crop yield and food safety. I am currently Visiting Professor at Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences and was awarded The Magnolia Silver Award by the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government in 2012. Additionally I am Special Professor at the University of Nottingham and a member of the UK’s Advisory Committee for Animal Feedingstuffs (ACAF).

David Hole
I am a professor of plant breeding and genetics at Utah State University in Logan, UT. My research focuses on cultivar development of wheat and barley. Of particular interest is discovery and characterization of genes for resistance to the fungal pathogen, Tilletia contraversa (dwarf bunt), and maintenance of wheat end use quality in organic production systems. I served a Fulbright Fellowship at the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and serve as a visiting or adjunct professor at both Kasetsart University in Thailand and North West Agriculture and Forestry University in Yangling, China.

Ruilian Jing
I am a senior research scientist in the Molecular Biology Department at Institute of Crop Science. My research has been focused on the drought tolerance (DT) and water use efficiency (WUE) in crop plants, especially in common wheat, including phenotype, genotype and germplasm enhancement. Specifically my work focuses on the evaluating criteria and techniques, evaluation of crop germplasm resources, genetic diversity, mining DT gene resources by linkage mapping and association mapping, gene cloning and characterization. My group is also trying to conduct DT breeding using molecular marker assisted selection by combining with wheat breeders. I lead several national projects aiming to improve crop drought tolerance and water use efficiency, and the CGIAR GCP (Generation Challenge Programme) commissioned project entitled “Wheat Breeding and Selection Strategies to Combine and Validate QTLs for WUE and Heat Tolerance in China”.

Andrew Leakey
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Biology and Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My research group studies the impact and adaptation of food and fuel crops to global environmental change. Current projects are investigating the genetic basis of drought tolerance in C4 grasses, and the mechanistic basis for elevated CO2 impacts on plant water relations and carbon metabolism. I am a former Fulbright Scholar and Beckman Fellow.

Laigeng Li
Plant biomass is an important renewable source for energy, fibre material and biochemicals. Our primary research interest is to study the formation of biomass polymers which are mainly deposited in plant cell walls and the processes by which biomass can be efficiently converted into biofuels and other chemicals. The research focus includes 1) elucidation of the biosynthetic pathways of lignocellulosic polymers, such as cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose, and 2) development of biotechnology for modification of lignocellulosic biomass in order to improve biomass conversion efficiency.

Chun-Ming Liu
I am Director of the CAS-Key Laboratory for Plant Molecular Physiology, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing. My primary research interest is in seed development, trying to understand how embryo and endosperm development are regulated molecularly and genetically. Rice and Arabidopsis are our models to carry out these studies. I’m currently involved in two projects: ‘Endosperm Development and Nutrition Improvement in Rice’ and ‘Genes Regulating Zygotic Activation in Arabidopsis’.

Paulo Mazzafera
I am Full Professor of Plant Physiology at State University of Campinas, Brazil as well as Coordinator of the Committee for Botany of the Brazilian Council for the Development of Science – CNPq. My research focuses on plant physiology and secondary metabolism. I am involved in two projects (eucalyptus and sugarcane) dealing with lignin biosynthesis. The objectives are 1) to study the preferential accumulation of S lignin in Eucalyptus globulus and 2) to find good gene candidates to change the lignin composition in sugarcane aiming to produce second-generation ethanol. I am a member of the Committee for Agricultural Science of Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP).

Ashutosh Mittal
I am a research scientist working at National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO, USA. I’m currently leading research to develop the conversion of biomass into fuel in a cost-effective manner so that biomass can become a real fuel source. While biomass is anything grown biologically, I focus on lignocellulosic biomass which is primarily crop waste. Currently, my focus is investigating the effect of changing the morphology of cellulose on its digestibility.

Umezuruike Linus Opara
I am an agricultural engineer and Research Professor at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. I hold the DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Postharvest Technology, and my research focuses on postharvest technologies (such as packaging and refrigeration) towards reducing food losses and waste and adding value to agri-food products. I lead research projects on design of the ‘Packaging of the Future’ supported by the South African Postharvest Innovation Programme, and mapping and reducing postharvest losses to enhance food security supported by the Stellenbosch University Food Security Initiative.
Additionally I am a Director of the Board of THE POST HARVEST PROJECT (USA) and have served on FAO/WHO Expert Panels and designed and implemented in-country projects on training in postharvest quality management in the Africa, Asia and the Middle East. I am actively involved in developing and promoting new initiatives to build and strengthen human capacity to transform African agriculture and food systems.

Adam Price
I have been researching the genetics of stress resistance in rice for 20 years, with an emphasis on the implications of reduced water inputs. Highlights include involvement in the release of a better-rooted rice cultivar in India produced via marker assisted selection and the characterisation and mapping of genetic variation for grain arsenic. I am the principle investigator of a multidisciplinary project using next generation sequencing, metabolism modelling, plant physiology and soil chemistry to determine the sustainability and breeding targets for alternative wetting and drying, a water-saving technique that is being promoted in Bangladesh. I am on the scientific committee of the large EU project DROPS.

Jianbo Shen
I am Professor of Plant Nutrition and Fertilization in the College of Resources and Environmental Sciences at the China Agricultural University (CAU). I am vice director of Centre for Resources, Environment and Food Security at CAU. My main research interests are root/rhizosphere processes and management for improving nutrient and water use efficiency and crop productivity, interactions of plant and soil, plant nutrition and fertilization for sustainable crop production and environmental security, and root/rhizosphere biology in response to nutrient supply.

Weiming Shi
I am the Director of the Department of Soil-Plant Nutrition and Fertilizers in the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences. My main research interests are Nutrients Management for Environmental Security, Plant Nutrition for Crop Improvement, Root Biology and Rhizosphere Processes for Sustainable Agriculture and Plant Response to unhealthy-soil.

Gustavo A. Slafer
I am ICREA Research Professor at the University of Lleida (Catalonia, Spain) andAssociate Professor of the Department of Crop & Forest Sciences. I study the mechanisms, at the crop level of organization, underlying the responses of grain crops to environmental and genetic factors. The environmental factors include management practices such us irrigation or fertilization (among other less manageable environmental factors including radiation, photoperiod and temperature). Genetic factors include from general breeding strategies to the action of particular genes or groups of genes. The general aim is identifying alternatives to traditional farming and breeding practises to enhance the efficiency of resource use, as an avenue to increase simultaneously both crop productivity and agricultural sustainability.

Chun-peng Song
My current research is in the area of plant molecular biology, in particular plant cell signaling. My work is focused on plant response to abiotic stress such as drought stress and on the involvement of the plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) and the signaling molecules hydrogen peroxide in plant growth and development.I am involved in the project: The Basic Research on Mechanism and Regulation of Improving Water Use Efficiency supported by National Basic Research Program of China.

Gail Taylor
I have a long standing interest in the use of woody plants as sources of renewable energy for heat, power and more recently for liquid biofuels such as bioethanol – the so called ‘second generation’ bioenergy crops. This includes understanding the genetic basis of yield, developing molecular breeding tools such as markers linked to QTL and deploying functional genomic approaches to investigate traits of interest. Most recently this has involved re-sequencing using Illumina of fifty genotype of Populus nigra and association genetics for traits related to saccharification. For a number of years we have been working on large association populations of Populus nigra and a mapping population of Populus for QTL discovery that was recently extended to over 800 F2 individuals. We are also interested in complete life cycle analysis (LCA) for bioenergy chains and in the environmental impact of these largely unexplored crops.
The research of the Plants and Environment Lab is also focussed on understanding how plants interact with their abiotic environment, in particular, in relation to global environmental change and in developing mitigation strategies to combat the detrimental effects of these changes.

Leon Terry
I head the Plant Science Laboratory at Cranfield University which is one of the largest postharvest research groups in the EU with over 20 members. My research has been driven by a need to preserve and maintain the quality of fresh produce by better understanding the physiological, molecular and biochemical changes which occur after harvest in order to reduce waste and thereby help ensure greater food security across the world. A key focus of my research has been on better understanding postharvest molecular physiology related to dormancy and the role of plant growth regulators.

Sally Wilkinson
I am a plant biologist researching effects of the environment on plant signalling and response mechanisms that affect crop plant performance, water use and yield, particularly under stressful conditions such as drought, high temperature and air pollution. I am involved in several large European Commission- and International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre-funded international projects. These aim to optimize water and nutrient acquisition by roots from the soil, to develop and improve perennial non-food biomass and bioproduct crops, and to improve selection and breeding strategies for high yield and stress resilience in food and biomass crops using physiological trait based approaches.

Gong Zhizhong
I am Cheung Kong Professor and Dean of the College of Biological Sciences at the China Agricultural University. My research entails using the model plant Arabidopsis mutants to study the molecular mechanisms of plant defence and gene silencing. Plant defence research focuses on three aspects of the salt, drought and cold hardiness of the plant.

Yihua Zhou
My research focuses on molecular mechanism of plant cell wall formation and remolding via functional characterization of genes involved in these processes. Since we use rice as major researching material, the related cell wall question in rice is mechanical property. Thus my laboratory is also interested in the mechanisms that affect rice lodge, an important agronomic trait, which is highly correlated with crop yield and quality. On the other hand, plant cell wall is the most abundant renewable resource and has a great potential for production of biofuel. Therefore, our research area is also related to new energy.