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Gravitation grant on plant mechanical properties for better crops

25 March 2024

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has awarded a Gravitation grant to the Green Tissue Engineering research programme, of which Professor Marleen Kamperman, from the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials (Faculty of Science and Engineering, UG), is a co-applicant. They will study the mechanical properties of plant cells in order to improve the defences of plants. Kamperman has been awarded 1.5 million euros for her materials research in this programme.

A total of seven consortia with top scientists from various Dutch universities have received a Gravitation grant. The University of Groningen (UG) is a partner in two of these consortia.

Green Tissue Engineering
Green Tissue Engineering

More pressure than in a champagne bottle

Like all living organisms, plants are subject to the laws of nature and are exposed to mechanical forces, for example as cells pull on each other, or as a fungus tries to invade. Researchers from the Green Tissue Engineering consortium will study how plant cells - with an internal pressure greater than that in a champagne bottle - perceive mechanical forces, and how these forces control growth, development and immunity. Armed with this knowledge, the consortium will develop new strategies for improving propagation and immunity in crops.

Besides the UG, partners in Green Tissue Engineering are: Wageningen University (main applicant), VU Amsterdam, and the universities of Eindhoven, Nijmegen, Utrecht and Leiden.

New multidisciplinary research area

Over the last decade, materials research has contributed intensively to the field of biomedical sciences and regenerative medicine. Examples include implant coatings, and polymer-based drug delivery systems. Surprisingly, collaboration between materials scientists and plant scientists is rather limited.

Green Tissue Engineering will initiate an innovative approach, bringing materials research and plant science together, to develop material platforms for plant tissue engineering. This has the potential to kickstart a completely new multidisciplinary field that could look at, for example, alternatives to plastics in agriculture that are not degradable (e.g. agricultural plastics, seed coatings).

Gravitation grant

With the Gravitation programme, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science stimulates excellent research in the Netherlands. It is aimed at scientific consortia that rank among the world's top in their field. NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) was asked to carry out the selection procedure for the Gravitation grants, which set up an independent committee of top international scientists to do the assessment. The Ministry has also awarded a Gravitation grant to ANION, of which Moniek Tromp, also from the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, is a co-applicant.

Last modified:16 May 2024 3.45 p.m.
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