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Agriculture and Food Security

Perhaps the single most important challenge today is to produce sufficient food for the world’s growing population that is not just safe, nutritious and affordable, but also in a sustainable manner. Moreover, as agriculture increasingly provides feedstocks for bioenergy and other chemicals for the bioeconomy, to avoid competition with food production will require use of marginal land, and ways to utilise agricultural waste. As well as crop science, animal health and livestock production, it therefore encompasses land use, as well as understanding of the links between diet and health, and food safety. 

Agriculture and Food Security is thus a strategic research priority of BBSRC, and Cambridge is at the forefront of tackling many of the challenges in this area, with Global Food Security as one of the University’s strategic research initiatives. There are many fundamental research projects, for example understanding the molecular basis of plant epigenetics and its influence on characters of hybrids, studies of the molecular basis of the immune response in animals, or evolution of pathogen genomes. These are complemented by more applied research into animal disease, welfare and productivity, strategies to deal with spread of crop pathogens, and breeding of new plant varieties, as well as how to balance agricultural production with conservation of natural habitats, and the role of nutrition in developmental programming and life-long maintenance of health.   

AFS   Engulfment of Salmonella (green) by the macrophage actin cytoskeleton (red) in wild type cells (left) and cells lacking the Salmonella Pattern Recognition Receptor NLRC4 (right) Alessandro Rizzo
Engulfment of Salmonella (green) by the macrophage actin cytoskeleton (red) in wild-type cells (left) and cells lacking the Salmonella Pattern Recognition Receptor NLRC4 (right) - Alessandro Rizzo, BBSRC DTP Student

Examples of PhD projects that were offered in previous years in Agriculture and Food Security are given here