The PHYCONET December 2018 newsletter is now available. This is our last newsletter, as the funding for the PHYCONET network finishes on 31st December. If you would like to be updated about the new Algae-UK network starting in early 2019, please email “firstname.lastname@example.org” before 5pm on 21st December, or Saul Purton (email@example.com) after this.
Our final annual conference was held at the Wesley Hotel in London on 8-9 November. Attended by 75 delegates, the meeting included presentations from awardees of our various funding schemes – Proof of Concept, Business Interaction Vouchers and IB Seeding Catalyst – as well as poster presentations and an excellent conference dinner for useful networking opportunities! Coincidentally, 8 November was the day that the Phase II NIBB were officially announced, so Director Saul Purton was very happy to be able to say that he had received notification from funder BBSRC that the application for Algae-UK was successful.
The conference programme is available here.
BBSRC has announced, with the support of EPSRC, that £11M is to be committed to funding six Phase II Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB), and we are delighted that the application submitted by PHYCONET Director Saul Purton, “Algae-UK: Exploiting the algal treasure trove” is being funded. The new network will commence in early 2019 with Saul as Director and Michele Stanley (SAMS), Pat Harvey (University of Greenwich) and Anna Amtmann (University of Glasgow) as Co-Directors. The scope of the new network will include microalgae, macroalgae and cyanobacteria.
The other NIBB to receive funding are:
- Biomass Biorefinery Network (BBNet) – Simon McQueen Mason, University of York
- Carbon Recycling: Converting waste derived GHG into chemicals, fuels and animal feed (CCNet) – Nigel Minton, University of Nottingham
- Elements of Bioremediation, Biomanufacturing & Bioenergy (E3B) Metals in Biology – Nigel Robinson, Durham University
- Environmental Biotechnology Network (EBNet) – Sonia Heaven, University of Southampton
- High Value Biorenewables (HVB) Network – Ian Graham, University of York
The Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa at The Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban held a 2-day course for beginners in algal culturing techniques on 30-31 October. The course received funding from PHYCONET which allowed members of the NIBB in the UK to register free for the training course and accommodation. Attended by 7 students and 5 researchers, the participants were introduced to a variety of concepts linked to factors affecting algal growth, including nutrition, feeding of cultures and the role of photosynthesis, with reference to biomass, biochemical composition and the implications this has to algal culturing. Both micro and macroalgae were covered by the course and how algal biotechnology is now developing at a research level but also the potential it has commercially. This was delivered by a mixture of CCAP, SAMS lecturing and early stage researchers.
The course was designed to have a large practical component which was delivered in the CCAP laboratory and utilised equipment from around SAMS. CCAP staff delivered these practical elements which linked to the topics covered by the presentations. Topics covered included: media prep, sub-culturing, isolation, enumeration using everything from plate readers through to flow cyctometer and mass culturing methods.
In September, a group of academic and industry PHYCONET members from the UK visited the SDIC Microalgae Biotechnology Center near Beijing, for a day of presentations from UK and Chinese researchers, and to visit the impressive facilities, which include raceway ponds, different types of tubular photobioreactors and facilities for downstream processing. The group then travelled to Wuhan in central China for the 1st Sino-British Forum on Algal Biotechnology and Biological Resources, held at the Institute of Hydrobiology (IHB). This 2-day meeting featured presentations, posters and a panel discussion, and provided many opportunities for learning about the research being carried out in different areas of China, networking with Chinese algal biology researchers, and visiting the IHB algal growth and development facilities. The meeting provided a very useful platform for establishing Sino-British collaborations, and a 2nd forum is planned to be held in the UK next year.
The full report is available here.
PHYCONET was pleased to sponsor the CyanoNet2018 meeting, held at the University of Glasgow on 13-14 September. This meeting, organised by Mary Ann Madsen and Anna Amtmann, featured presentations grouped into sessions on fundamental cyanobacterial biology, applied research and Industry (the full programme is available here). The meeting closed with two discussion sessions where PIs developed a general strategy to secure more funding for cyanobacterial research and ECRs discussed common challenges, shared tips and tricks and concluded that an online forum was necessary to continue this discussion.
If you would like to join PHYCONET, or if you are currently a member, please read our updated Ts&Cs, available here.