Philip White

Leader of Environment Plant Interactions research program

Selenium, bread and man

Collaborative research with the University of Nottingham on the BAGELS project aims to increase the amount of Selenium in bread which is linked to human wellbeing

Image of Selenium chemical symbol on the periodic tableHumans need to eat plants or their products to survive. Plants take up their essential elements from the soil. Humans need soil. Recent research in EPI demonstrates the intimate links between human wellbeing and one of the elements that plants need to survive and grow - selenium. It shows our expertise in soils and crops contributes to solving material problems of human wellbeing.

Selenium is an essential element for humans. According to the UK Food Standards Agency selenium plays an important role in our immune system's function, in thyroid hormone metabolism and in reproduction. It is also part of the body's antioxidant defence system, preventing damage to cells and tissues.

Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a technique used for the quantification of chemical elements.

MYCOREMED radiocaesium

Radiocaesium (Cs) pollution of agricultural, semi-natural and natural areas is a worldwide problem that has arisen from human activities.

Increasing dietary mineral delivery through potatoes

Potato is the fourth most important crop worldwide after maize, wheat and rice and is a rich source of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Essential minerals are required in small amounts that enable the human body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development. In developing countries billions of people suffer from malnutrition caused by mineral micronutrient deficiency. These deficiencies are probably due to the high intake of staple food crops such as maize, wheat and rice that are deficient in essential minerals and low intake of mineral-rich fruits and vegetables (HarvestPlus).

Nutritional Genomics Group

Optimisation of mineral fertilisers in crop production

One objective of our group is to optimise the use of mineral fertilisers in crop production and, thereby, reduce fertiliser inputs and pollution. In recent years, this work has focused on improving the mineral nutrition of crops and has included the development of molecular diagnostics for P-starvation, the identification of P efficient varieties, and the trialling of sustainable P-fertilisers. Collaborative projects related to this area of research include the following.

Resource Capture

Adequate resources of light, water and mineral nutrients are essential for plants. The Resource Capture Group aims to understand how best to optimise the utilisation of these resources by crops in a changing global environment, by elucidating the genetic control and physiological bases of the traits involved.

We are also interested in how plants compete, as individuals, for these resources and aim to explain this. We have a strong research team that integrates knowledge of plant physiology, particularly of rooting traits, genetics and mathematical modelling. The group is actively involved in the SCRI Living Field educational project.

Environment Plant Interactions

Image of the SCRI site looking towards the River TaySCRI's environmental science research spans across disciplines to gain a holistic understanding of how plants respond to and modify environmental processes. Scottish Government commissioned research is gaining an in-depth understanding of the environment in arable farming systems and this is being used to advise on policy development in Scotland. These skills have also been applied to emerging issues relevant to the UK and Europe, including the UK’s Farm Scale Evaluations, international working groups, IPDM-based alternatives to pesicides and EU-wide studies on the ecological impacts of GM plants.

The environment and the ecology of plants and pests are our key research areas, investigated by a strong multidisciplinary team of scientists in entomology, pathology, plant sciences, vegetation ecology, phytochemistry, mathematical modelling and soil sciences. A major area of interest is integrating processes that occur above ground and in the soil. Research conducted on plant interactions with soil has extended from the understanding of sustainable arable systems to ‘green’ engineering solutions for slope stabilisation with vegetation.

Syndicate content