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08-11-2013 | © picture

Getting to the roots of better crops

Almost 842 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The world faces huge challenges if it is to achieve food security for a global population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050. With ERC help, Professor Malcolm Bennett of the UK’s University of Nottingham is trying to improve crop yields through better understanding of roots and the way they grow.

14-08-2013 | The skeletons of the siliceous sponges, here of Euplectella aspergillum, ©picture and illustration: W.E.G Müller

Sponge enzymes: nature’s little bio-builders

Sponges seem an unlikely source for innovation, yet they may hold the key to new nanotechnologies, innovative optical devices and new ways of regrowing human bone and preventing bone disease. Difficult to believe? Not for Werner E.G. Müller. In the BIOSILICA project, he and his team are developing ways to adapt the complex processes that natural glassy sponges use to build their wondrous biosilica structures for use in biodegradable implants that would facilitate bone healing after surgery or fractures.

27-04-2012 | Image (silk worm) © Vollrath/OxfordSilkGroup, Portrait copyright © F Vollrath

New polymers – as strong as silk

People have been producing and using silk for more than 5 000 years, but now – thanks to an ERC Advanced Grant – Professor Fritz Vollrath is increasing our understanding of this material. His research could help to improve existing industrial polymers and develop new silk industries, adapted to the local conditions and resources in Asia, Africa and South America.