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Aberystwyth University (AU-IBERS)

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (AU-IBERS) is a new venture that has brought together the Institutes of Rural Sciences and Biological Sciences at Aberystwyth University and the former BBSRC Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER). AU-IBERS comprises approx. 300 staff, 1300 undergraduates and 100 postgraduate students. Research at AU-IBERS is focused around three themes: Biorenewables & Environmental Change (BEC), Plant Genetics and Breeding and Animal and Microbial Sciences.

AU-IBERS leads WP2 (Phenotyping for drought tolerance) and will play a leading role in the exploitation of research outputs relevant to the genetic improvement of Miscanthus.  The BEC theme comprises approx. 70 staff and postgraduate students, who conduct basic, strategic and applied research on energy crop biology, stress biology, energy crop breeding, post harvest biology and fermentation, conversion processes and environmental change.  Within BEC there are projects on energy crops, principally Miscanthus, but also reed canary grass, switchgrass, high-sugar perennial ryegrass, maize, macro-algae and short rotation coppice willow.  AU-IBERS is a world-leading breeder of Miscanthus.  The work spans the entire biorenewable production chain and is supported by a wide range of research income from both the public and private sectors.

Professor Iain Donnison leads the AU-IBERS work in WATBIO.  Dr John Clifton-Brown leads the Miscanthus breeding programme at IBERS. As part of this work he has travelled widely in Asia collecting natural variation in Miscanthus. Much of his physiological knowledge including on drought has been encapsulated in well known models (e.g. MISCANMOD). Dr Kerrie Farrar is a BBSRC Fellow with long-term research interests in the molecular mechanisms of plant growth and development. The overall aim of her current research is to increase biomass yield in Miscanthus to facilitate the transition to a sustainable low-carbon future, through both genetic and genomics approaches.