Trials of conducting trials in a global pandemic -by Lauren Hibbert


Was this as a familiar sight for you as it was for me during peak lockdown?

If anything, the outbreak of COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of the global food chain in keeping our supermarkets stocked. My research focuses on the base of this food chain, working on developing nutritionally-dense and environmentally-friendly varieties of watercress. Despite the pandemic’s best efforts to keep me out of the field, I was able to start a UK field trial at a watercress farm in June this year.

The trial: what and why?


So why are we editing the genome of lettuce? - A blog by Annabelle Damerum

The humble lettuce… a garnish to your burger, the crunch in your sandwich, the star of your salad… Believe it or not, the lettuce industry rakes in over $2 billion in revenue in California, which grows over 2/3 of the lettuce consumed in the whole of the US, placing it as the 6th most valuable food commodity1. And this is before the consideration of value-added products, such as pre-prepared salads and baby leaf salad mixes.

Postharvest short-course- A blog by Felipe Becerra Sanchez

The UC Davis post-harvest centre was founded over 40 years ago by Adel Kader. The aim of this centre is to coordinate and gather knowledge to reduce postharvest losses and improve the product quality. From there till now, the postharvest centre remains as one of the top sources of postharvest knowledge offering three courses: Fruit ripening, Postharvest short-course and the Fresh cut workshop.

Reaching Net Zero at the University of California- A blog by Caspar Donnison

University of California (UC) is committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2025. This is a very ambitious target but it also reflects the urgent need for rapid and aggressive decarbonisation of the American economy, if we are to avoid the most dangerous and damaging impacts of climate collapse.

Glyphosate: is it that bad?- A blog by Felipe Becerra Sanchez

What is it?

Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide that inhibits an enzyme involved in three amino acids biosynthesis (phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan). Glyphosate is mainly absorbed through the leaves, and then internally distributed to rest of the plant. The enzyme inhibition causes a diversion in the energy from other processes, and after few a days the plant turns yellow and dies.

Why it is so popular?

Bioconsortia: harnessing the 2nd genome of plants- a blog by Lauren Hibbert

Illusive and often overlooked, the microbiome is often referred to as the 2nd genome of plants, due to the discovery of its profound impact on plant fitness. The microbiome consists of the soil surrounding the roots of plants with the bacteria, viruses and fungi it contains. Last week, I, along with over 20 others from UC Davis, visited a company harnessing the beneficial powers of the microbiome: Bioconsortia.

Bioconsortia are a small venture capital company based in Davis developing microbial products for improving plant performance.

Picnic day 2019: The Davis Watercress Adventure Awaits- A blog by Suzanne Milner

A tradition that has been running for over a century in Davis, this year’s picnic day was the first in which we participated and it was a great success. There is a wide range of events at picnic day including Doxie Derby, cockroach racing, DNA extractions, chick hatching, a petting zoo, sports games and so many more. Our lab group, along with an estimated 75,000 visitors, enjoyed a range of events. My favourite each year is always the parade but others in our group enjoyed cow milking and battle of the bands.

Spotlight on participatory research seminars- A blog by Yufei Qian

I attended two impressive participatory research seminars hosted by 2019 Plant Sciences Winter Colloquium and the Plant Breeding Center at UCD. The first one was by Dr. Julie Dawson, University of Wisconsin-Madison, about developing organic culinary varieties from seed to kitchen. The second one was by Dr. Tareke Berhe who breeds “super grain”, Teff with aim to produce a local supply for restaurants in Sacramento, CA. Participatory Research increases the involvement of farmers in research.

When life hands you rain, plant another experiment; The trials of field trials- A blog by Suzanne Milner

As biologists, we are accustomed working with various biotic and abiotic conditions. One may get a result when growing a population in a controlled environment but a completely different result when repeating the experiment in the glasshouse and another result in the field. It is our job to tease apart the differences in conditions to figure out why our results differ between experiments. What environmental conditions have changed? Is it stress from pests in the field? Is it that constricted roots in the controlled environment and glasshouse causing a stress effect?