Photo collage project leadersFrom left to right: Christiane Funk (photo: Thomas Kieselbach), Henrik Hallingbäck (photo: Sven Tegelmo), Yanjun Zan (photo: Yan Ji)

[2019-11-22] On Wednesday this week, three projects affiliated with UPSC got granted by Formas, the Swedish Research Council for sustainable development. Christiane Funk, associated group leader at UPSC, and Henrik Hallingbäck, who recently started to work at the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden, Skogforsk, received a grant in the category Research and Development projects. Yanjun Zan who is working as postdoc with Harry Wu at UPSC got a mobility grant for early-career researchers.

Christiane Funk and her co-applicant Patrik Andersson, both from the Department of Chemistry at Umeå University, want to look for natural UV filters that are less harmful for the environment and human health than the current, commercially available UV filters. These filters are for example used in cosmetics to reflect or absorb UV radiation. The two researchers will analyse UV filter chemicals from microalgae and cyanobacteria from the arctic regions who are exposed to extreme sunlight under ice and protect themselves with these chemicals. Their goal is to identify the most sustainable chemicals that could substitute the currently used UV filters.

The two projects from Henrik Hallingbäck and Yanjun Zan will both focus on plant breeding strategies. Henrik Hallingbäck plans together with his two co-applicants from SLU, Harry Wu and Rodomiro Ortiz, to use a software that allows to simulate the effect of different breeding strategies on a virtual tree population. Based on these simulations, they hope to establish guidelines on how a tool called genomic selection can be best applied in conifer breeding programmes to speed up the breeding process. This tool allows to predict the breeding value of a candidate tree based on its genetic setup.

Yanjun Zan will use his mobility grant to work with Professor Harry Wu and Professor Jianbin Yan from Huazhong Agricultural University in China as international host. Based on the multi-omics data from 6000 maize individuals, he will study how local farming conditions interact with the genetic makeup of an individual that eventually affect agronomic traits. Using these results, he will develop statistical models that shall help plant breeders to stabilize plant performance by accounting for complex interactions between climate change and individual genetic makeup.

The project titles and contact information of the project leaders:

Project: Development of sustainable and bio-based UV filter chemicals

Christiane Funk
Department of Chemistry
Umeå University
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Project: Selection effects on the accuracy of genomic prediction in trees and other perennial plants

Henrik Hallingbäck
Uppsala Science Park
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Project: Can plant breeding be improved by accounting for how genetic interactions are affected by environmental factors?

Yanjun Zan
Umeå Plant Science Centre
Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More information about Formas’ annual open call: