Bioscience for Food, Industry and Energy

Bioscience research has an essential role in the provision of affordable, safe and sustainable food; in the long term security of energy supplies, and in the development of technologies based on biological processes and materials to support clean and sustainable industry. We view the sustainable production of food and energy as two of the most important challenges of the 21st century, and as interdisciplinary and intersecting topics that affect a much broader range of issues, including health and the environment.

Research Topics

    • Animal welfare and control of livestock diseases. We have world-leading expertise in research towards a better understanding of epidemiology and pathogen biology, the dynamics of virus-host interactions, immune responses of the host against infectious agents, and the development of novel and effective vaccines. We also conduct research that consider the effects of livestock rearing practices on epidemiology and animal welfare and the connections between the two. Students will be able to explore the application of new technologies to tackle disease and welfare problems, from automated monitoring of animal behaviour through to disease surveillance and understanding and exploiting the microbiome.
    • Crop science. Our research into crop science aims to bring about step changes in the crop yield while at the same time improving the efficiency with which they use limiting resources such as nitrogen, phosphate and water. Oxford researchers play a leading role in projects that aim to engineer synthetic symbioses between plants and bacteria to deliver nitrogen to crops and to develop C4-rice to improve photosynthetic performance of rice. Other areas of interest include nutrient uptake, abiotic and biotic stress, physiological and metabolic processes underpinning plant yield, quality and nutritional value, integrated pest management and the sustainable management of crop systems.
    • Invertebrate vectors and disease control. Many animal and plant diseases are transmitted by invertebrate vectors. We aim to support cross-fertilisation of ideas in plant and animal biology to develop innovative vector and plant disease control strategies, in particular using novel genetic interventions. Students working in this area will benefit from long-standing interactions with OxiTec (a spin-out from Oxford Zoology), and from training in mathematical biology and epidemiology.
    • Bioenergy. Researchers at the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University are carrying out research across a range of bioenergy-related areas, including development of hydrogen-based biofuel cells, and the improvement of processes for biomass conversion through anaerobic digestion, CO2 capture and the clean-up and bioconversion of wastes from households, industry and agriculture. This research is being combined with research into sustainability, and the most appropriate plant feed-stocks, with the aim of avoiding land targeted for food production and focusing on water efficient species.
    • Biotechnology. Biotechnology research with the DTP includes research to support the production of high value products such as drugs, fragrances, flavours and pheromones through bioprocessing; and synthetic biology approaches that enable biochemical transformation of low cost precursors, and the development of biomimetic technologies and materials, such as silks, biosensors, biopolymers and enzymes. Students working in this area will particularly benefit from access to training provided by the Synthetic Biology and Synthesis for Biology and Medicine CDTs.