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Three WUR Plant Sciences Group researchers receive prestigious Vidi grant

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has awarded seven experienced Wageningen researchers a Vidi grant worth 800,000 euros. Three of these researchers (Wilma van Esse, Jose Lozano Torres and Wouter Kohlen) are associated with the Wageningen Plant Sciences Group. The Vidi grant enables them to develop their own innovative line of research and set up their own research group in the coming five years.

The Wageningen laureates have gained a lot of experience and conducted successful research, which made them eligible for a Vidi grant. Together with the Veni and Vici grants, Vidi is part of the NWO Talent Programme. Within this programme, researchers are free to submit their own subject for funding. They will use the money to spend the next five years in their field.

NWO selects researchers based on the quality of the researcher, the innovative character of the research, the expected scientific impact of the research proposal and the possibilities for knowledge use. At a national level, NWO has awarded 81 Vidis.

The three Wageningen Plant Sciences laureates awarded are:

To multiply you must divide
Dr. Wouter Kohlen - Laboratory of Molecular Biology

Plants are unable to move. However, a plant can adjust its body architecture to suit its needs. In some cases, new growth is initiated by reactivating cell divisions of fully differentiated cells. Humans cannot do this. Wouter Kohlen will investigate what makes a plant able to initiate these cell divisions.

Flowering time genes branching out Wilma van Esse, Bioscience, Laboratory of Molecular Biology

The timing of flowering determines not only when a flower is formed but also the seed number, seed weight and number of branches. The researchers will study how these traits are linked at the molecular level in order to improve cereal crop yield through knowledge-based breeding strategies.

Mapping the onset of plant parasitism Jose Lozano Torres - Laboratory of Nematology

Plant parasitic worms are one of the most damaging pests in agriculture. Understanding the start of parasitism is fundamental for its management. Biologists will use novel technologies to measure at cellular level the first molecular changes needed to cause a parasitic disease. This knowledge will largely contribute to crop breeding.

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