Page last updated at 06:26 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 07:26 UK

Centre's climate change challenge

Ibers (picture: Ibers)
Ibers formed out of a merger announced last May

A major new research centre trying to find solutions to the problems posed by climate change will be officially opened in Aberystwyth later.

The Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Ibers) has more than 300 staff and an annual budget of more than 20m.

It was formed when the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research merged with Aberystwyth University.

Ibers has one of the UK's largest group of scientists in its field.

Two university departments, the institutes of biological science and rural sciences, will form part of Ibers.

This will provide new opportunities for more than 1,000 undergraduate and research students at Aberystwyth University, said officials.

This is a development of truly major significance for the science base in Wales
Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones

They added that an initial investment of more than 50m over five years will include new research and teaching facilities at Ibers' headquarters and the university's Penglais campus.

The new centre will be opened by Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones and Education Minister Jane Hutt.

"This is a development of truly major significance for the science base in Wales," said Mr Jones.

"It will create a research platform for internationally important research into some of the most pressing questions facing the world today, and it will develop in Wales the skills needed to solve some of the problems caused by rapid climate change."

Ms Hutt added: "The areas of research that the new institute will focus upon are critical to Wales and much wider."

The vice-chancellor of Aberystwyth University Professor Noel Lloyd said the merger was "an exciting opportunity".

Scientists at Ibers are currently using modern DNA techniques to make crops grown in the world's hottest and driest regions more resistant to drought.

They are working on a new variety of the pearl millet plant grown in Africa and Asia.

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