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Synergistic solutions: The benefits of UK-Brazil research collaborations

Copyright: Ruskpp/iStock/Thinkstock
Kick off meeting in May 2016 at IAC, Campinas (Instituto Agronômico de Campinas). Copyright: Sacha Mooney

As the second most frequent collaborator in international programmes with BBSRC, partnerships with the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) have encouraged and produced world-class research across a range of bioscience areas.

This week, BBSRC are joining FAPESP to celebrate FAPESP Week London, part of the UK-Brazil Year of Science and Innovation 2018-2019. The week aims to strengthen links between researchers from Brazil and the UK, promoting partnerships in research, innovation, and industry. It will also highlight the achievements of the UK-Brazil partnership, and the world-leading research and innovation that comes as a result.

We asked four researchers funded under BBSRC-FAPESP joint programmes to tell us a little more about their research and what benefits working with Brazil have yielded.


Dr Patrick Varga-Weisz

Dr Patrick Varga-Weisz, Babraham Institute and the University of Essex

Influence of gut microbiota derived short chain fatty acids on intestinal immunity

“The collaboration between my lab and the lab of Professor Marco Aurelio Ramirez Vinolo from the University of Campinas has been exciting, enjoyable and productive, in great measures because our expertise is complimentary. Marco brings in the nutrition-immunity axis and I bring expertise in the fields of chromatin and gene expression. I think this reflects to some extent the different strengths of science in Brazil versus UK. The mutual student and postdoc exchanges added an element of excitement and fun for all members of the labs. Our collaboration was catalysed by a BBSRC-Brazil Partnering Award, then funded through a BBSRC-FAPESP Pump-Priming award and is currently supported by a “Newton Advanced Fellowship” from The Royal Society.”

 
Professor Tim Bugg

Professor Tim Bugg, The University of Warwick

Lignin valorization in cellulosic ethanol plants: biocatalytic conversion via ferulic acid to high value chemicals

“Researchers at the universities of Warwick and Manchester have been collaborating with scientists from CNPEM (Campinas) since February 2017 to discover new biocatalytic routes from ferulic acid in plant biomass to high value chemicals. This work builds upon metagenomic enzyme identification by Dr Fabio Squina (University of Sorocaba) and metabolic engineering of lignin degradation in bacteria by Professor Tim Bugg (The University of Warwick), but seeks to generate new routes from renewable chemicals to chemicals such as pharmaceuticals and flavours & fragrances. The new routes can be used to convert either sugar cane bagasse in Brazil or wheat straw from agriculture in the UK through to high value chemicals.”

 
Professor Sacha Mooney

Professor Sacha Mooney, University of Nottingham

NUCLEUS: a virtual joint centre to deliver enhanced Nitrogen Use effiCiency via an integrated SoiL-plant systEms approach for the Uk & BraSil

“Previous support from the Newton Fund allowed us to exchange scientists between the UK and Brazil to experience the problems surrounding the management of nitrogen in both countries. Now NUCLEUS, with support from the Newton Fund, is enabling us to build the research team to tackle this important problem (nitrogen) and engage the wide range of partners necessary to maximise the impact of the research. Whilst the scale of the agricultural systems is quite different between the countries, we have found there is enormous synergies in terms of deploying solutions for retaining agricultural nitrogen and minimising losses to the environment that will significantly benefit both countries.”

 

Professor Ciro Rosolem, São Paulo State University

NUCLEUS: a virtual joint centre to deliver enhanced Nitrogen Use effiCiency via an integrated SoiL-plant systEms approach for the Uk & BraSil

“Most tropical, weathered soils have low mineral nitrogen. NUCLEUS is exploring a range of ways to address this. One way is to introduce legumes into crop rotations to naturally increase soil nitrogen. Another is to understand which crop species are best at scavenging nitrogen from deeper in the soil and recycling it for the next crop, thus reducing the need for fertilizer inputs. This is highly relevant for the management of soil nitrogen in both Brazil and the UK”


Dr Patrick Varga-Weisz, Professor Tim Bugg, and Professor Sacha Mooney will all be speaking at FAPESP Week London 2019.

View the full agenda for FAPESP Week London: FAPESP: FAPESP Week London.

Find out more about our partnering awards with Brazil: Brazil Partnering Awards.


Tags: feature collaboration international UK-Brazil FAPESP skills and training people