Leading scientists Thijs Ettema and Christa Testerink will each receive 1.5 million euros from the Dutch Research Council (known by its Dutch acronym NWO). With this Vici grant, they will spend the next five years researching how complex life-forms developed out of primitive cells, and how plants handle stress with more flexibility than hitherto assumed. Vici is one of the most significant scientific grants in the Netherlands.
The two Wageningen researchers submitted a project proposal to research funder NWO. Both proposals were remunerated, NWO announced today.
The proposal submitted by Thijs Ettema is entitled 'Our microbial ancestors in focus'. The professor of Microbiology and his research group focus on how complex life originated on Earth. Complex life such as plants, animals and humans evolved from simple, unicellular micro-organisms. Recent studies have identified Asgard archaea as the closest relative to complex cellular life-forms. Thijs Ettema will focus on studying the physiology and cell biology of the Asgard archaea, to gain more insight into the origination of complex life.
Wageningen professor in Plant Physiology dr. Christa Testerink submitted a research proposal entitled 'In shape under stress'. This proposal covers the growth and development of plants. A lack of water or the availability of only saline water inhibits growth and development. Plants try to overcome these conditions by stimulating local root growth and altering the flowering season. Christa Testerink and her group research how this flexibility occurs and how it may contribute to stress tolerance.
Innovational incentive: Veni, Vidi, Vici
The Vici grants are awarded to highly experienced researchers who have demonstrated the ability to successfully develop their own research path and who are equipped to coach young researchers. The Vici grant is one of three funding tools in the so-called Innovation impulse. The others are Veni, aimed at young researchers, and Vidi for experienced post-docs.
The two Wageningen awards are among a total of 32 grants distributed in the Netherlands (18 for female researchers, 14 for male researchers). A total of 242 proposals were submitted.