John Innes Centre Controlled Environment Rooms

John Innes Centre Controlled Environment Rooms

We pride ourselves at the John Innes
Centre in providing facilities which support and lift the opportunities for
our excellent scientists to carry out meaningful and exciting research in the
world of plant microbiology. Our latest addition is an innovative and
groundbreaking controlled environment room designed and built for us by Conviron. Research is a global
business now and we want to be innovative and aware of the cutting edge. What we do here it tends to be adopted
by other researchers around the world and what we want to do is deliver that
knowledge for the betterment of humanity. John Innes was particularly interested
in having a diverse range of growing facilities within the Institute. In particular one of the things that
this new facility has allowed us to do is rather than just having these
binary environmental conditions it’s allowed us to expose the plants to
a very slow change in temperature over the entire course of their lifetime. Nobody had ever done this before. Nobody
had done this long slow ramping from summer into autumn or spring into summer.
By utilizing the ability of the new controlled environment rooms to track weather stations around
the world or a particular weather station day by day I can actually challenged my transgenic
plants to environmental conditions that are relevant without having any sort of
limitations on what I grow. That’s why the rooms are particularly useful for
me because I can bring the weather to the lab rather than taking my plants to the weather.
I work on carnivorous plants and most of the work we do is genetics so we’re trying to find genes which
affect the trap development in Utricularia and to do that we need to make it
flower so we can get the offspring previously when we were growing that in
the greenhouse we could only get it flower for about three months in
the summer so really we needed a solution where we
could make that summer year round and that’s what the growth rooms
can do. The fact that it’s a tropical species means that we need tropical conditions. It is great that we can tweak all
the different parameters: temperature, light and humidity. The fact that we can tweak
all of those to create an artificial environment is maybe even better
than it is in the wild. That combined with the ability to be
able to say I can plant a plant now and in a month I know I’m going to get
flowers. That’s really valuable. Plants grow in very difficult circumstances
at least to our eyes. In alpine tops or in flowing waters.
With ongoing climate change we have a serious challenge in many crop species.
My work treats some of the same processes that are impacted by increased
temperature. Because many of the models that we are using are high alpine
conditions – I’m talking about along the sides of
glaciers or glacial till, extreme circumstances – we need to replicate the
condition again and again. We need to record exactly what the variance is and we
find with these cabinets the variance between runs is very low so we can have high
confidence that we are able to maintain precise humidity and temperature control
throughout the experiment. I get most excited by the fact that we’re
discovering completely new things. I think it’s a new age in plant biology. Benefiting from our relationship with
Conviron and the use of their advanced controlled environment rooms the John Innes Center is able to take
plant research to the next level. Together we’re doing things never done before,
unlocking new research. Together we are opening new doors.

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