Nav: Home

What a 'CERN' for agricultural science could look like

January 05, 2016

The Large Hadron Collider, a.k.a. CERN, found success in a simple idea: Invest in a laboratory that no one institution could sustain on their own and then make it accessible for physicists around the world. Astronomers have done the same with telescopes, while neuroscientists are collaborating to build brain imaging observatories. Now, in Trends in Plant Science on January 5, agricultural researchers present their vision for how a similar idea could work for them.

Rather than a single laboratory, the authors want to open a network of research stations across Europe--from a field in Scotland to an outpost in Sicily. Not only would this provide investigators with easy access to a range of different soil properties, temperatures, and atmospheric conditions to study plant/crop growth, it would allow more expensive equipment (for example, open-field installations to create artificial levels of carbon dioxide) to be a shared resource.

"Present field research facilities are aimed at making regional agriculture prosperous," says co-author Hartmut Stützel of Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany. "To us, it is obvious that the 'challenges' of the 21st century--productivity increase, climate change, and environmental sustainability--will require more advanced research infrastructures covering a wider range of environments."

Stützel and colleagues, including Nicolas Brüggemann of Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany and Dirk Inzé of VIB and Ghent University in Belgium, are just at the beginning of the process of creating their network, dubbed ECOFE (European Consortium for Open Field Experimentation). The idea was born last February at a meeting of Science Europe and goes back to discussions within a German Research Foundation working group starting four years ago. Now, they are approaching European ministries to explore the possibilities for ECOFE's creation.

In addition to finding financial and political investment, ECOFE's success will hinge on whether scientists at the various institutional research stations will be able to sacrifice a bit of their autonomy to focus on targeted research projects, Stützel says. He likens the network to a car sharing service, in which researchers will be giving up the autonomy and control of their own laboratories to have access to facilities in different cities. If ECOFE catches on, thousands of scientists could be using the network to work together on a range of "big picture" agricultural problems.

"It will be a rather new paradigm for many traditional scientists, but I think the communities are ready to accept this challenge and understand that research in the 21st century requires these types of infrastructures," Stützel say. "We must now try to make political decision makers aware that a speedy implementation of a network for open field experimentation is fundamental for future agricultural research."
-end-
This work was made possible with the financial support of the European Research Council.

Trends in Plant Science, Stützel et al.: "The future of field trials in Europe: establishing a network beyond boundaries" http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tplants.2015.12.003

Trends in Plant Science (@TrendsPlantSci), published by Cell Press, is a monthly review journal that features broad coverage of basic plant science, from molecular biology through to ecology. Aimed at researchers, students, and teachers, its articles are authoritative and written by both leaders in the field and rising stars. For more information, please visit http://www.cell.com/trends/plant-science. To receive media alerts for Cell Press journals, please contact press@cell.com.

Cell Press

Related Large Hadron Collider Articles:

Profits of large pharmaceutical companies compared to other large public companies
Data from annual financial reports were used to compare the profitability of 35 large pharmaceutical companies with 357 companies in the S&P 500 Index from 2000 to 2018.
Near misses at Large Hadron Collider shed light on the onset of gluon-dominated protons
New findings from University of Kansas researchers center on work at the Large Hadron Collider to better understand the behavior of gluons.
Springer Nature publishes study for a CERN next generation circular collider
Back in January, CERN released a conceptual report outlining preliminary designs for a Future Circular Collider (FCC), which if built, would have the potential to be the most powerful particle collider the world over.
Large cells for tiny leaves
Scientists identify protein that controls leaf growth and shape.
NYU Physicists develop new techniques to enhance data analysis for large hadron collider
NYU physicists have created new techniques that deploy machine learning as a means to significantly improve data analysis for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's most powerful particle accelerator.
Mini antimatter accelerator could rival the likes of the Large Hadron Collider
Researchers have found a way to accelerate antimatter in a 1000x smaller space than current accelerators, boosting the science of exotic particles.
A domestic electron ion collider would unlock scientific mysteries of atomic nuclei
The science questions that could be answered by an electron ion collider (EIC) -- a very large-scale particle accelerator - are significant to advancing our understanding of the atomic nuclei that make up all visible matter in the universe, says a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
How large can a tsunami be in the Caribbean?
The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami has researchers reevaluating whether a magnitude 9.0 megathrust earthquake and resulting tsunami might also be a likely risk for the Caribbean region, seismologists reported at the SSA 2018 Annual Meeting.
Meet the 'odderon': Large Hadron Collider experiment shows potential evidence of quasiparticle sought for decades
A team of high-energy experimental particle physicists, including several from the University of Kansas, has uncovered possible evidence of a subatomic quasiparticle dubbed an
The pros and cons of large ears
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have compared how much energy bats use when flying, depending on whether they have large or small ears.
More Large Hadron Collider News and Large Hadron Collider Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.