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University of Edinburgh

Country: United Kingdom

University of Edinburgh

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6,938 Projects, page 1 of 1,388
  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: 2743607

    This project will investigate how changes in UK food consumption would be meditated through international trade in food commodities to distribute agricultural and associated environmental changes globally.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: G0900500
    Funder Contribution: 900,841 GBP

    During DNA damage repair it is crucial for cells to distinguish between broken DNA ends and natural chromosome termini, telomeres. DNA breaks are normally repaired by re-joining of broken ends or recombination, while telomeres are maintained by telomerase. Healing of broken chromosomes by telomere additions as well as applying DNA repair mechanisms to telomeres lead to genome instability associated with human ageing, genetic disorders, and cancer. In my prior experiments I discovered a pathway that regulates baker‘s yeast telomerase in response to DNA damage. Intriguingly, the regulation had an opposite effect on telomerase at broken chromosomes and telomeres: telomerase was inhibited at DNA breaks but stimulated at telomeres, suggesting that this regulation might play a key role in the ability of cells to distinguish between telomeres and DNA breaks. I propose to further dissect the novel regulatory pathway of telomerase regulation and address its biological significance in yeast, and also to test whether similar mechanisms are present in mammals as both Pif1 and telomerase are conserved from yeast to humans. This research has important implications for approaching human health problems associated with genome instability, such as normal human ageing, multiple genetic disorders, and especially for understanding cancer cause and therapy.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: 2434048

    Thraustochytrids are being recognized as important producers of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which have proven to have various beneficial effects on animal and human health [1]. The consumption of DHA especially is shown to improve brain and heart functions, as well as exhibiting positive effects on the development of both retinal and immune systems and helping in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, by functioning as a key factor in membrane fluidity, cell interactions and cell signalling. Therefore, thraustochytrids are emerging as a sustainable alternative in human and animal feeds, especially in the aquaculture industry. Their vast biotechnological potential lies, as well, in their ability to produce other bioactive compounds such as carotenoid pigments, squalene, exopolysaccharides and extracellular enzymes. This project would aim to exploit this biotechnological potential to produce industrially relevant compounds by enhancing the phenotype of these protists through the process of directed evolution. Adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE) has so far proven to be effective in strain optimization of bacteria, yeast and microalgae under chosen evolutionary pressures [2]. Some of the potential biotechnological applications for this method include improving biomass production, enhancing tolerance of strains to stresses that generally occur in industrial processing, inducing activation of latent pathways to improve product tolerance and production of non-native compounds, as well as identifying essential genetic bases of strain adaptation [3]. In contrast to genetic engineering, directed evolution strategies allow multiple beneficial mutations to occur in various genes and regulatory gene networks at a time. Additionally, depending on the selection pressure, ALE can mediate many different evolutionary trajectories [3]. The project itself is expected to have numerous outcomes depending on the chosen stress factors and the environment of experiments. Molecular biology tools will be used to characterize chosen strains biochemically and to shed light on various metabolic pathways and how they interconnect to produce a desired compound. Next-generation sequencing technology and transcriptome analysis will be used to analyse the expression of key genes involved in fatty acid production. The project will examine the diversity of polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism pathways and aim to develop a mutant strain with increased production of omega-3 PUFAs. To facilitate the ALE experiments, screening will have to be optimized to identify variants with desired function. Additionally, growth characteristics, quantification of fatty acids and chemical composition analysis of the evolved thraustochytrid strains will be studied throughout by using analytical chemical methods including gas chromatography and Nile red lipid visualization combined with light microscopy. The project is in collaboration with MiAlgae Ltd., a start-up company that cultivates Omega-3 rich microalgae by recycling industrial co-products, in specially-designed fermenting vessels tailored for optimal microalgal growth. By producing algal oil with proven human and animal health benefits, MiAlgae contribute to decreasing global over-reliance on fish as a source of Omega-3 PUFAs for human and animal consumption. As the project is in collaboration with an industrial partner, selected mutant strains could be industrially relevant.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: NE/J005665/2
    Funder Contribution: 39,416 GBP

    It is expected that sea-level rise will impact coastal communities worldwide over the coming decades to centuries. In the UK, the vulnerability of coastal communities and assets is best characterised in terms of the likely frequency of the over-topping of sea-defences. For example, when they were built, the sea-defences for the city of London (including the Thames Barrier) were designed to protect London 1-in-1000 year flooding. A rise of 50 cm in global sea level will reduce this level of protection to 1-100 years, and a rise of 100 cm would reduce it to 1-in-10 years. Pine Island Glacier is one of five glaciers in West Antarctica that are currently contributing sea-level rise at a significant and accelerating rate. The portion of current affected by thinning contains sufficient ice to raise global sea-level by around 25 cm - its neighbours account for another 50 cm. Given the rate of ice-loss and the potential implications for sea-defence planning there is a clear requirement to understand and predict the future of Pine Island Glacier and its neighbours. However, as highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007) understanding the way that dynamic changes are transmitted through the glaciers draining ice sheets is so poorly understood that the IPCC believed it was the least well understood, and potentially the largest, contribution to sea-level rise in the coming century. ISTAR-C will directly address this lack of knowledge, by seeking to understand the processes that are responsible for transmitting the effect of thinning of the floating ice shelf, upstream such that thinning can now be seen on much of the trunk and tributaries of Pine Island Glacier. ISTAR-C will also use the most up-to-date methods available to measure the properties (rock-type and water-content) of the bed beneath at several locations on Pine Island Glacier to determine their influence on the propagation of thinning. We will test the hypothesis that it is these bed conditions are responsible for the fact that the tributaries of Pine Island Glacier appear to be thinning at different rates, which will give us a much better understanding on which to predict the future magnitudes of ice-thinning rates for the glacier. To achieve these objectives we will collect data from Pine Island Glacier during two field seasons. These will include precise measurement of variations in ice-flow from the ice-shelf up the glacier and into its tributaries. We will image the bed of the glacier using radar and seismic techniques, use satellite to measure the changing configuration of the glacier in areas that cannot be accessed on the ground. We will use the data we have collected to drive and verify a set of computer simulations of the dynamics of Pine Island Glacier. Each of these will test a particular aspect of the glacier flow, and allow us to test our current knowledge and hypotheses against real data. The models that emerge from the exercise will be demonstrably more reliable in simulating past changes on the glacier, and thus have reduced uncertainty in predicting the future evolution of such changes, and the consequential contribution to sea-level rise. Overall, this programme will deliver significant improvements in understanding of how glaciers in general interact with their beds, and very specific lessons about one of the most rapidly-changing and significant glaciers on the planet, Pine Island Glacier.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: 2103983

    The proposed research will build upon the existing studies of icephobic coatings. For the most part that has consisted of utilising superhydrophobic coatings that mimic biological phenomena to reduce water-surface adhesion, though some other mechanisms have been investigated. Icephobic coatings have successfully been fabricated from a variety of materials, including polymers, composites and metals. A variety of these coating materials will be investigated for their icephobicity, with laboratory fabrication of coatings also to be carried out. The topic will require knowledge of wettability, ice nucleation and adhesion forces, on which further research will be carried out over the course of the project.

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