US$74mn to be invested for AgriTech Hub on Roslin institute's campus

An US$74m investment for a new agritech hub will improve the efficiency and output of agricultural applications. (Image source: Adobe stock)

The Roslin Institute has received strategic investment funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and it is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

An US$74m investment for a new agritech hub will improve the efficiency and output of agricultural applications, and enhance worldwide food security

The agritech hub will be nucleated at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies’ Easter Bush Campus Europe’s largest concentration of animal science research expertise, where the Roslin Institute is located, with reach across the whole University of Edinburgh.

Investment will comprise US$27mn from the UK Government, including US$1.3mn from the Scottish Government, as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

The investment will transform the scale and impact of agricultural technology in outputs from teaching, research and innovation. The Easter Bush AgriTech Hub aims to develop world-leading research capability in data science.

The hub will bring together researchers from the University of Edinburgh and other higher education institutions, along with commercial, public and third sector organisations, in collaboration with project partners Midlothian Council.

Researchers will work with the Scottish and UK public sector, including the Animal and Plant Agency (APHA), Scottish Government’s Animal Health and Welfare Division, UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and industry, such as the Innovate UK Agri-Tech Centres.

Rainfall may have a significant influence on the evolution of sheep in Ethiopia, researchers have found. Genetic variations in sheep DNA are more linked to precipitation levels than to temperature or altitude, analysis of their genetic make-up and climatic data suggests.

A better understanding of environmental adaptation in native livestock breeds may help inform breeding and management strategies in tropical countries such as Ethiopia, where one-third of smallholders own sheep.

The Roslin Institute’s group sought to investigate if the environment had influenced changes in the sheep’s DNA to help them to thrive in different climates.

In one of the largest studies based on a single region, the researchers analysed the genomes of 94 sheep from 12 different areas of Ethiopia and examined them alongside detailed climatic information for each of the geographic regions.

Researchers compared the genomes of the sheep and found more than three million small differences in specific segments of their DNA. They then looked at the altitude, temperature and rainfall in each of the 12 geographical regions in the study and measured how many times these genetic variations occurred in sheep living under each of the environmental conditions.

There was a stronger association between the frequency of these genetic variations and precipitation levels compared with temperature or altitude, suggesting that rainfall is a more important environmental driver for genetic adaptation in Ethiopian sheep.