THE Swindon-based Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council has launched a £2.4million response to the fungus which is threatening the country’s third most common ash tree.

BBSRC, based at Polaris House, off North Star Avenue, has awarded £2.4m of fast-track research funding for use in the fight against the virulent ash dieback fungus.

BBSRC chief executive Professor Douglas Kell said: “These grants will enable the bioscience community to speed up the response to tackling the disease directly and also help us harness the ways in which some ash trees can defend themselves naturally.”

Around half of the BBSRC funding has been awarded to the Nornex consortium which brings together tree health and forestry specialists and scientists working with state-of-the-art genetic sequencing and imaging technologies to study the interactions between the fungus and ash trees.

The second half will go to Cambridge University and Rothamsted Research, for computer models that can chart the progress of the disease and help make predictions for the future.