A TEAM led by a University of York scientist which developed new plants which can be used to clean up land polluted with explosives is in the running for an award.

Prof Neil Bruce, of the university’s biology department, and his team are shortlisted in the social innovator of the year category in the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Innovator of the Year 2014 competition.

The contest recognises individuals and small teams who have harnessed the potential of their research.

By studying the ways in which plants deal with toxic chemicals, Prof Bruce and his team, who included researchers from the University of Washington and the US Army, engineered new plants that are able to remove toxic explosive pollutants from contaminated soil and water.

Prof Bruce said: “Our work represents a cost-effective, environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing alternative to clean up explosives on contaminated land.”

The awards will be presented in London on March 20. Winners in each category will receive a £15,000 award, with a further £15,000 for the overall winner.