2. Delivery Plan
2.4 Promote partnership, interdisciplinarity and globalization
Omics as a discipline represents a common language linking biological communities from human health through the bioeconomy to the environmental sciences. A key strategic objective is to ensure Environmental omics contributes to the significant synergies within UKRI (Box 5).
Beyond a shared core technology, the ‘complementarity’ between various antecedent research councils’ remits in the omics area is significant. For example, deriving the genomic basis of phenotype is important in understanding human genetic disease (MRC), the development of new crops (BBSRC) and in understanding evolutionary and adaptive processes (NERC). Shared science questions and grand challenges form the foundations on which to realise the benefits of shared knowledge between different communities.
Environmental science is fundamentally an interdisciplinary pursuit, for example, exploiting physical science to support remote sensing and earth observation, social science to map out the human–environment interface and engineers to deliver the solutions to major environmental challenges. UKRI will provide an extended opportunity for interdisciplinary teams to work together in pursuit of common goal, integration of omics approaches will be key to the success of these initiatives. Omics provides a powerful tool to aid in the understanding of conservation challenges but often the drivers are social, ranging from competition for natural resources to economic growth. Greater integration between researchers from different fields will provide better continuity from identification and understanding of environment issues to tangible solutions.
Opportunities for business: Natural product discovery
Translation opportunities from environmental sequencing: generation of cleaner, greener alternative solutions for industrial processes and generation of novel products. For example: global market for industrial enzymes is expected to grow from nearly $5.0 billion in 2016 to $6.3-7.2 billion in 2020 with annual growth rates of between 4.6-5.8% (other examples: enzymes for food and beverage industry, animal feed and biofuels). With our enhanced capacity to sequence whole genomes cheaply, we are now in a position to exploit environmental species for novel enzymes and novel compounds in a way not previously possible, especially if linked to high through-put screening. This would be a real cross-council research field.