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Earlham Institute

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The Earlham Institute, based at the Norwich Research Park, is a hub of life science research, training and innovation focused on understanding the natural world through the lens of genomics.
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Our scientists specialise in developing the latest tools and approaches needed to unravel the scale and complexity of living systems so we can understand, benefit from, and protect life on Earth.

We are at the forefront of bioscience research and innovation – bridging the gap between biology and computer sciences by supporting data-intensive research and housing one of the largest supercomputers for the life sciences in Europe. Our researchers are able to generate open-source resources that provide the scientific community with new technologies and computational methods to process, store, and interpret diverse datasets.

Scientists at the Earlham Institute are developing next-generation plant genomics tools and bioinformatics approaches that will help crop breeders and the biotech industry – accelerating climate-resilient, nutritious, and resource-efficient yields. We played a major role in understanding the wheat genome, collaborating with many other academic and industrial partners to improve this vital food crop – including the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), Designing Future Wheat (DFW), 10+ Wheat Genomes programmes, and the Hybrid Wheat Initiative.

Helping to understand how agriculture can adapt to climate change and move toward global Net Zero targets, our researchers are advancing genomic diversity analysis – identifying new diverse sources and ways of breeding commercial varieties of major agricultural crops including wheat, rice and forage crops. We are also contributing to efforts to improve our understanding of soil microbial diversity and the link to its health and capacity to sustain crop growth – assessing the impact of agronomic practices and application of soil amendment products on microbiome diversity through developing practitioner tools to make informed agricultural decisions.

Plant disease is another threat that impacts crop yield and global food security. Early detection and quantification of crop pathogens has the potential to reduce pesticide use and crop loss due to pathogen damage. We are actively collaborating with crop breeding and informatics companies to model and forecast future disease threats. Tools and knowledge we’ve helped to develop will empower breeders, plant disease epidemiologists and policymakers to make predictions around wider crop disease outbreaks and assist in breeding programme planning for crop pathogen prevention and treatment.

To further enable early detection of potential crop pathogens, Earlham Institute researchers develop novel disease detection and identification tools. For example, AirSeq allows rapid in-field pathogen monitoring by using cutting-edge equipment to sequence and analyse DNA/RNA captured from the air. The technology can also help to identify novel pathogens, new strains of known pathogens, and develop better modelling of disease epidemiology.

The Earlham Institute is fortunate to collaborate with organisations in the agricultural industry and other research institutions. We would be happy to discuss how our expertise and capabilities could add value to your R&D activities or product development. We also offer bespoke training to help address the shortage of computational and bioinformatic skills within the Agri-biotech sector.

If you are interested in connecting with us, please contact the Business Development and Impact Team at the Earlham Institute. You can also keep up-to-date on current developments, events and stories @EarlhamInst and Earlham.ac.uk and EI’s newsletter.

The Earlham Institute is one of eight institutes that receive strategic funding from UKRI Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council, as well as support from other research funders.

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