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Novel fungicides laboratory to play part in ensuring global food security

Copyright: CIFOR on Flickr by CC 2.0
News from: University of Sussex

A new laboratory, the ‘AOX Lab’, has been opened at Hilldale Research Centre in Wickham to develop novel fungicide compounds, based on ground-breaking research at the University of Sussex, and as a result of the institution’s first ever industrial partnership.

Work planned at the site will help to drive vital research into the control of respiratory activity in fungi which attack the world’s major cereal crops. With the help of a recent £1M BBSRC Industrial Partnership Award, Professor Tony Moore of the University of Sussex will collaborate with Agform Ltd to accelerate the development of fungicide resistance inhibitors. BBSRC contributed £602,390 and the rest was made up from the University of Sussex and Agform Ltd.

Fungal pathogens are adept at developing resistance to treatments by expressing an enzyme called the alternative oxidase (AOX). Using previous BBSRC funding, the novel compounds formulated by Professor Moore prevent this enzyme from being functional. With further development, these compounds may be effective for longer and require less frequent spraying of crops.

Copyright: Sussex Innovation Centre
John Misselbrook, Managing Director of Agform and Professor Anthony Moore from the University of Sussex. Copyright: Sussex Innovation Centre

The AOX Lab represents a significant investment in UK industry and innovation – the only UK-owned commercial research facility for new agrochemical actives – in the country. Agform’s existing nanotechnology capabilities is a successful example of the government’s investment in innovative technology and research, with a number of commercial products already derived from this technology on being marketed in the UK and the EU. It was partly funded by two grants from the Technology Strategy Board (now Innovate UK), supported by Defra and BBSRC.

Professor Moore said: “The implications of this ongoing research are potentially huge, both in terms of protecting vital yields of wheat, barley and rice across the world, and lessening the environmental damage caused by multiple applications of fungicides.”

John Misselbrook, Managing Director of Agform, said: “Agform Limited are delighted to provide the facilities to support this project – our collaboration with the University of Sussex has inspired the company to strengthen our focus on R&D, and particularly to solving the international problem of resistance to agrochemicals. Any new product identified by this collaboration could be very important to the cultivation of cereal crops in the UK, and valuable to a global market.”

Dr Ian Carter, Director of Research and Enterprise, University of Sussex, said: “This is a great step towards realising the full commercial potential of Professor Moore’s BBSRC-funded research, having worked closely with our business incubation hub, the Sussex Innovation Centre, over a number of years supported by the University’s Enterprise Development Fund. It is essential that we support our researchers in maximising the impact of their work, and a big part of this is by taking the opportunity to bring innovative products to market.”


Notes to editors

For more information about AOX Fungicides, please contact the Sussex Innovation Press Office (see external contact below).

Further information on the AOX/Agform Industrial Partnership Award:


BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £473 million in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.

Header image copyright: CIFOR on Flickr by CC 2.0

External contact

Joseph Bradfield, Sussex Innovation Press Office

+44 1273 704400


UK Research and Innovation Media Office

Tags: industry food security partnerships innovation press release