17th Sep 2013

A new research centre focused on fundamental plant science research related to securing the provision of high-quality food for future generations has opened its doors at the University of Warwick

The building is part of a £5 million investment into food security research across the University of Warwick.

It features state-of-the-art growing environments where scientists will study plants as diverse as wheat, maize, broccoli, lettuce, onions, carrots and Arabidopsis to ensure a sustainable and secure supply of food for the planet’s growing population.

It was officially opened at an event attended by leading figures in the world of plant science.

The two-story 1,200 sq m Phytobiology Facility will be will be used by more than 80 scientists. They will be studying vital issues such as resistance to pests and diseases, how plants cope with environmental stress and the mechanisms behind plant reproduction.

University of Warwick Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nigel Thrift said: “Feeding the world’s growing populations is one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century.

“At the University of Warwick, food security is one of our research priorities and this new facility clearly demonstrates our commitment to this area.

“It will bring together the best minds with the latest technology to ensure that we rise to this global challenge.”

University of Warwick Head of the School of Life Sciences Professor John McCarthy said: ‘Construction of the state-of-the-art Phytobiology Facility represents a key step in our plan to create a modern School of Life Sciences on the main campus at Warwick that integrates outstanding plant science with equally outstanding research on a wide range of other organisms and systems.

"We all look forward to seeing the fruits of the excellent research that will be performed in this facility over the coming years.”

The new facility contains the latest plant sciences equipment. The ground floor contains walk-in growth cabinets and laboratories for the molecular analysis of plants. 

The second floor greenhouse suite is the latest GroDome technology from Unigro, which provides a growing environment with natural light and uses the latest energy saving heating and cooling technologies to ensure it is as efficient as possible.

Angus Padfield, development director, at Unigro said: “This has been a challenging and exciting project with the design maximising space by locating the facility on the roof of the new plant sciences research building.

“Unigro’s GroDome provides the University of Warwick with a cutting edge research facility.

“Our design incorporates the latest developments in sustainable energy management with accurate and precise environmental control providing the added benefit of cost savings throughout the year. “