The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is set to fund 62 visionary projects that could revolutionise our understanding of the rules of life.
From lessons in regeneration that we can learn from rejuvenating jellyfish to the effect sleep has on our genetic ageing, each of the projects will explore early-stage ideas at the frontiers of bioscience.
Among the projects receiving a share of the £12m pot are two from the University of Aberdeen. 'Exploring the role of higher-order interactions in living systems', led by Dr Francisco Perez-Reche, Reader in the School of Natural and Computing Science, will combine empirical and mathematical work to consider the role of higher-order interactions between three or more individuals on the dynamics and evolution of traits of living systems.
The second study, entitled 'Serendipitous adaptive evoluntionary innovation mediated by methylome and te mobilome dynamics' is being led by Professor Stuart Piertney, Chair in Molecular Ecology and Evolution at the School of Biological Sciences and Dean for Postgraduate Research. This project will use the colonisation of the deep sea by amphipod crustacea to examine how the action of selfish genetic elements can generate rapid evolutionary novelty that promotes adaptation to extreme environments.
By drawing upon unconventional thinking and approaches, the investigators hope to make exciting discoveries with the potential to transform our understanding of the fundamental rules of life.
These new investigations aim to radically change the way we think about important biological phenomena covering plant, microbial and animal sciences.
The investment by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s (BBSRC) Pioneer Awards enables the pursuit of unique ideas that challenge current thinking or open up novel areas of exploration.
Professor Guy Poppy, Interim Executive Chair at BBSRC, said: "Understanding the fundamental rules of life, such as the principles governing genetics, evolution and biological processes, is essential for advancing scientific knowledge. It is also imperative to societal progress.
"Many of the challenges faced by today’s society, such as global food security, environmental sustainability and healthcare, are deeply rooted in biological processes.
"BBSRC is committed to understanding the rules of life by investing in cutting-edge discovery research through schemes like the Pioneer Awards pilot. Our investments are pivotal in expanding the horizons of human knowledge and helping to unlock innovative bio-based solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges."