Cutting fuel costs and CO2 emissions

Cars of the future which advise how to drive more safely and economically could bring significant cuts in fuel consumption and emissions. Eco-driving systems offer visual guidance to drivers, usually built in to satellite navigation systems or via smartphone apps. The systems are not yet widely available, but manufacturers are looking at installing them in their next generation of cars.The ecoDriver project, led by the Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds with industry partners including BMW, Daimler, CRF (Fiat-Chrysler) and TomTom Telematics, showed that drivers of cars which had such systems installed saved an average of 4.2% in fuel and CO2 emissions, with an even higher saving of 5.8% on rural roads.

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New study finds vitamin D3 improves heart function

A daily dose of vitamin D3 improves heart function in people with chronic heart failure, a five-year University of Leeds research project has found. Dr Klaus Witte, from the School of Medicine and Consultant Cardiologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, led the study, known as VINDICATE. He said: “This is a significant breakthrough for patients. It is the first evidence that vitamin D3 can improve heart function of people with heart muscle weakness – known as heart failure. These findings could make a significant difference to the care of heart failure patients.”

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Unravelling the secret of antibiotic resistance

Scientists from the University of Leeds have solved a 25-year-old question about how a family of proteins allow bacteria to resist the effects of certain antibiotics. Proteins of the ABC-F protein family are a major source of antibiotic resistance in ‘superbugs’ such as Staphylococcus aureus, a group of bacteria that includes MRSA. The findings, published in the American Society for Microbiology journal mBio, provide the first direct evidence of how this family of proteins ‘protect’ the bacterial ribosome, the protein makers in cells, from being blocked by antibiotics.

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CUHK Uncovers Structure and Functions of the Rice YchF-type G Protein

Prof. Hon-Ming Lam, Director of the Centre for Soybean Research of the Partner State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and his team have uncovered the structure and functions of the Rice YchF-type G Protein for the first time. The new findings help improve plants’ defense response and stress tolerance, and maintain a higher agricultural productivity under adverse conditions.

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New funding for livestock research centre

A new government and industry-backed £70million livestock innovation centre has been launched, supported by University of Leeds investment. Bringing together the food industry and researchers, the government has awarded £27.7 million to set up Centre of Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIELivestock). It aims to transform the productivity of the UK livestock industry by providing a “one-stop-shop” to drive innovation. The University of Leeds investment has been match-funded by government, giving a total of £7m to help develop its specialist pig research facility. Funding from other industry and research institutions makes up the £70 million.

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Urgent need to transform key food producing regions in Africa

Agriculture in parts of sub-Saharan Africa must undergo significant transformation if it is to continue to produce key food crops. A new study, published in Nature Climate Change, shows that maize, beans and bananas are most at risk from climate change. The research is the first to allocate timeframes for changes in policy and practice in order to maintain production levels and avoid placing food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers at risk. Study lead author Dr Julian Ramirez-Villegas from the University of Leeds, who is working with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), said: “This study tells where and, crucially, when interventions need to be made to stop climate change destroying vital food supplies in Africa.

“We know what needs to be done and, for the first time, we now have deadlines for taking action.”

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