We pride ourselves at the John Innes Centre in providing facilities which support and lift the opportunities for our excellent scientists to carry out meaningful and exciting research in the world of plant microbiology. Our latest addition is an innovative and groundbreaking controlled environment room designed and built for us by Conviron.
Barry Robertson, Department Head, Controlled Environments, Glasshouses:
Research is a global business now and we want to be innovative and aware of the cutting edge. What we do here it tends to be adopted by other researchers around the world and what we want to do is deliver that knowledge for the betterment of humanity. John Innes was particularly interested in having a diverse range of growing facilities within the Institute.
Dr. Dana MacGregor, Postdoctoral Scientist, Crop Genetics:
In particular one of the things that this new facility has allowed us to do is rather than just having these binary environmental conditions it's allowed us to expose the plants to a very slow change in temperature over the entire course of their lifetime. Nobody had ever done this before. Nobody had done this long slow ramping from summer into autumn or spring into summer. By utilizing the ability of the new controlled environment rooms to track weather stations around the world or a particular weather station day by day I can actually challenged my transgenic plants to environmental conditions that are relevant without having any sort of limitations on what I grow. That's why the controlled environment rooms are particularly useful for me because I can bring the weather to the lab rather than taking my plants to the weather.
Dr. Christopher Whitewood, Postdoctoral Scientist, Cell & Developmental Biology:
I work on carnivorous plants and most of the work we do is genetics so we're trying to find genes which affect the trap development in Utricularia and to do that we need to make it flower so we can get the offspring. Previously when we were growing that in the greenhouse we could only get it to flower for about three months in the summer so really we needed a solution where we could make that summer year round and that's what the growth rooms can do. The fact that it's a tropical species means that we need tropical conditions. It is great that we can tweak all the different parameters: temperature, light and humidity. The fact that we can tweak all of those to create an artificial environment is maybe even better than it is in the wild. That combined with the ability to be able to say I can plant a plant now and in a month I know I'm going to get flowers. That's really valuable.
Dr. Levi Yant, Project Leader, Cell & Developmental Biology:
Plants grow in very difficult circumstances at least to our eyes. In alpine tops or in flowing waters. With ongoing climate change we have a serious challenge in many crop species. My work treats some of the same processes that are impacted by increased temperature. Because many of the models that we are using are high alpine conditions - I'm talking about along the sides of glaciers or glacial till, extreme circumstances - we need to replicate the condition again and again. We need to record exactly what the variance is and we find with these cabinets the variance between runs is very low so we can have high confidence that we are able to maintain precise humidity and temperature control throughout the experiment.
I get most excited by the fact that we're discovering completely new things. I think it's a new age in plant biology. Benefiting from our relationship with Conviron and the use of their advanced controlled environment rooms the John Innes Center is able to take plant research to the next level. Together we're doing things never done before, unlocking new research. Together we are opening new doors.