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New centre a response to tertiary education strat

New centre a response to tertiary education strategy

The National Centre for Advanced Bio-Protection Technologies approved for Lincoln University (today 19.11) meets the national strategic goals of innovation, economic development and environmental sustainability through its focus on biosecurity, biocontrol, bioprotection and culturally appropriate technologies.

“The Centre responds to the Government’s Tertiary Education Strategy document which identified biosecurity as a high priority for New Zealand,” says the head of Lincoln University’s Postgraduate and Research School, Professor Roy Bickerstaffe.

“To give effect to this, the Centre draws on the excellence of national researchers from four principal partners - Lincoln University, Crop and Food Research, AgResearch and Massey University - together with associated partners HortResearch, Landcare, WRONZ, Forest Research, Auckland University, Canterbury University and Auckland University of Technology.

“This national collaboration of universities and Crown Research Institutes provides an unparalleled concentration of scientific expertise in the area of biosecurity, bioprotection and biocontrol which will deliver benefits that target the maintenance of our indigenous ecosystems and also ensure that the biologically based industries remain economically viable,” says Professor Bickerstaffe.

He says the Centre will be unique in that it will pursue advanced technological techniques which will establish New Zealand at the technological forefront of global developments whilst being cognisant of the importance of cultural compatibility.

Centre’s ‘biotron’ will be powerful research tool says director -

A New Zealand “biotron” will be a major new research facility at the Centre and when established it will be one of only three of its kind in the world and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.

Essentially a biotron is an interior, climate-controlled unit which duplicates, on a small scale, an exterior growing environment.

The proposed Lincoln-based biotron would comprise up to eight environmental microcosms, each housed in separate walk-in chambers with computer-controlled climates. A special feature, rare elsewhere, would be complementary lysimeter (core of soil) facilities.

A computer-controlled air conditioning system would deliver daily/seasonal cycles in temperature, humidity and light, and there would be a separately controlled soil temperature and irrigation capability.

Professor Stewart describes the proposed biotron as a “powerful research tool” which will allow researchers to study the spread of invading plant pathogens or genetically engineered organisms through ecosystems.

“With the biotron we will be able to test many of the concerns that the public have without having to go to field trials,” she says.

“We can show the public that we have done the health and environmental tests and allay public fears before we take anything out into the field.

“It will push us into the forefront of ecological research and underpin the new biotechnologies coming through.”

Vice-Chancellor delighted -

Lincoln University’s Vice-Chancellor Dr Frank Wood is “tremendously proud” of the Lincoln team which presented the successful bid for a campus-based Centre of Research Excellence.

“I see the success of the bid as an endorsement at the highest level of the quality and relevance of the science we do at Lincoln and the science of our partners,” he says.

“The Centre not only focuses on areas of the highest national importance, but it creates a new model for integrating the capabilities of the partner universities and Crown Research Institutes.”

CRI partners see Centre as major gap-bridging opportunity -

Dr Desma Hogg, General Manager, Research., of Crop and Food Research, and Professor Stephen Goldson of AgResearch say that the Centre of Research Excellence is a major opportunity to bridge the gap between organics and biotechnology with a new ecological approach to biosecurity and biocontrol which is consistent with tikanga Maori.

“We will develop new technologies that will enable us to better manage and control biosecurity incursions, third generation biopesticides for grassland and vineyard systems, a revolutionary new defence system for crop pest and disease resistance and the use of indigenous knowledge for the bioprotection of Maori horticultural developments,” she said.

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