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Wellcome Boost to LISCB Molecular Machinery Research

Professors John Schwabe and Daniel Panne have both been granted prestigious Wellcome Trust Investigator Awards for their projects investigating different aspects of how our genetic material is regulated.

Professor Schwabe has been awarded £2.34 million to investigate the structure, mechanism and regulation of histone deacetylase complexes (HDACs), which control whether genes are in an active ‘open’ state or an inactive ‘closed’ state. These complexes are important drug targets for the treatment of diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV.

Professor Panne has been awarded £1.55 million to investigate how chromosomes in our cells are folded in a precise manner so as to fit into the cell nucleus, with the contact between folded segments of DNA critical to how genes are regulated and therefore key to human biology.

Public Engagement: What Makes Strawberries Sweet?

Dr Joanna Fox was awarded a Royal Society Partnership Grant as Scientific Partner with the St Mary and St John CEVA primary school. The project involves all year groups of the school and gets the children involved in handling real data and thinking scientifically.

hands holding strawberries

The Project is Titled: What Makes Strawberries Sweet?

Our project investigates whether nature (i.e the DNA of strawberry varieties) or nurture determines how sweet the strawberries are by asking these questions:

How do the growing conditions affect yield and flavour?

We will compare plants grown outside vs inside the poly-tunnel for yield/plant growth and flavour. We will build rain water collectors to monitor the amount of water the strawberries are getting, and use digital thermometers to monitor the temperatures.

Can we use computer modelling and simulation to determine optimum growing conditions to increase growth and fruit yield?

Using the greenhouse mimic in Flowol 4 software to model growing climates based on different variables – sun, light, moisture, temperature and water, pupils will learn to program and model climate control, seeking optimum growing conditions. They will respond to the virtual inputs triggered by the mimic itself bringing extra realism.

Do all strawberries have the same flavour genes?

We will extract DNA from different varieties of strawberries and analyse the sequence of the genes associated with sweetness/flavour.

Which variety are the sweetest?

The children will taste the different varieties of strawberries and decide which are the sweetest.
So far we have planted 120 Strawberry plants (30 each of 4 x varieties) and the children are looking after them and recording growth, how much water they are getting and the temperature.

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