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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 00:38 GMT
Plants 'could withstand' warming
The study will look at climate, season and plant growth
Crops could be developed to withstand the impact of global warming, Edinburgh University scientists have said.

A five-year study aims to gain a greater understanding of how warmer winters and summers and changing season lengths affect crop yields.

The 6m project will also look at how climate change impacts on forests, woodlands, heaths and moors.

It will combine theory, computer modelling and experiments to study temperature and plant growth.

There will certainly be a strong incentive to produce crops that are more robust to temperature change
Dr Karen Halliday
University of Edinburgh

Dr Karen Halliday, of the university's School of Biological Sciences, said: "We hope to be able to influence the survival of crops, as well as their quality and biodiversity."

The project, which is expected to get fully under way in the spring, will also draw on the expertise of scientists at the Universities of York and Liverpool and mathematicians from the University of Warwick.

Their findings may lead to the development of more robust crops.

Dr Halliday said even very small changes in temperature can have dramatic effects on plant development.

"We're interested in how temperature affects the behaviour of the proteins that control plant growth and development," she said.

"I would anticipate that some of the results we get would be directly useful.

"Many crops are susceptible to temperature change. There will certainly be a strong incentive to produce crops that are more robust to temperature change and can withstand warmer temperatures."

The project is part of a 30m UK-wide investment in biology research, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

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