Computational and Systems Biology
Head of Department: Professor Chris Rawlings
Departmental Secretary: Di Dawkins
The Computational and Systems Biology Department undertakes research and development in mathematical, statistical and computational solutions to biological problems at all levels of biological scale. We are developing methods, models and software which contribute to all of the strategic programmes within Rothamsted Research.
The group has expertise in a wide range of statistical methods related to the design and analysis of field scale agro-ecology experiments - in particular in the application of mixed modelling methods. The group also works on methods for analysis of metagenomic datasets. The Applied Statistics group collaborates extensively within the Institute providing consulting and training in the design of experiments, data analysis and interpretation.
The Applied Bioinformatics group has expertise in the development of software tools and application of data integration methods used to support systems and network-based approaches to the analysis of large genetic and genomics datasets. The Bioinformatics group supports a wide range of software and databases being used by Rothamsted scientists and collaborates extensively, providing consulting and training in the analysis of molecular biology data, in particular next generation sequencing datasets.
The main focus of the bioinformatics group is on network based data integration for candidate gene prediction and prioritisation, and application to biological processes relevant to plant pathology and crop science. The semantic and syntactic heterogeneity of biological data presents major challenges for integration. Our approach has been to use graph based methods which allow alignment of data from multiple sources and which facilitate the visualisation and analysis of the resulting networks. We are investigating the use of network based approaches to predict genes associated with pathogenicity in plant fungal pathogens. We are also interested in machine learning methods for exploiting the high dimensional data emerging from large scale experiments.
Our research on Movement Pattern Modelling uses advances made in the novel physics and mathematics of optimal searching, random walks and turbulence to develop predictive, validated mechanistic models of invertebrate movement patterns over landscape and regional scales.
Food security has become a major challenge given the projected need to increase world food supply by about 70% by 2050. Global warming, characterized by shifts in weather patterns and increases in climatic variability and extremes, represent an additional challenge to achieve this goal. New wheat cultivars will be required for a rapidly-changing environment putting severe pressure on breeders who should select for climate conditions which can only be predicted with a great degree of uncertainty. We are developing mathematical and simulation models of crop-climate interactions to quantify future threats to crops and hence identify targets for crop improvement in a changing climate.
The group focuses on the integration of modelling with field and laboratory experiments to study population dynamics/epidemiology and evolutionary ecology of plants and their pests and pathogens. Current key areas include:
Key application areas are
People› Ambrose Andongabo
› Pierre Carion
› Nathalie Castells-Brooke
› Suzanne Clark
› Margaret Glendining
› Jacek Grzebyta
› Keywan Hassani-Pak
› Joseph Helps
› David Hughes
› Elzbieta Janowska-Sejda
› James Kitchen
› Elisa Loza-Reyes
› Artem Lysenko
› Alice Milne
› Valerie Mitchell
› Stephen Parnell
› Stephen Powers
› Aiming Qi
› Chris Rawlings
› Andy Reynolds
› Mikhail Semenov
› Ryan Sharp
› Julie Soula
› Pierre Stratonovitch
› Femke Van Den Berg
› Frank Van Den Bosch
› Rodger White
› Lucille Wiltsher
Operates two national networks for monitoring insect populations in the UK. More...
Provides the research community access to a range of in situ state-of-the-art instrumentation in hydrologically isolated fields and farms to better address key issues in sustainable agriculture. More...
A database of interactions between pathogens and their hosts maintained at Rothamsted Research with international input. More...
These have been running since the mid 19th Century, provide a unique experimental system and archive of soil and plant samples. More...
Rothamsted Research receives
strategic funding from the BBSRC
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