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Distinguished Guest Lecture Series

Upcoming and Recent Seminars

The Harold Woolhouse Lecture 2014

Title: Exciting Ion channels: Venus flytrap, a plant on an animal diet

  • Venue, Speaker and Lecture Details

    Date/Time: Wednesday 19th March, 2014, 4.00pm
    Location: Plant Research Centre Auditorium, Waite Campus
    Speaker: Professor Rainer Hedrich, Wuerzburg University, Germany

    The audience is invited to stay and talk with the speaker over drinks and finger food following the seminar.

    Since the first recordings of single potassium channel activities in the plasma membrane of guard cells more than 25 years ago, patch-clamp studies have discovered a variety of ion channels in all cell types and plant species studied. Their properties of these transporters differ in a cell type- and cell membrane-dependent manner. Guard cells, for which the existence of plant potassium channels was initially documented, has been advanced to a versatile model system for studying plant ion channel structure, function, and physiology, where they are involved in volume and turgor regulation.

    But what do we know about the molecular mechanisms of plant excitability in general?

    Charles Darwin recognized that carnivorous plants such as the Venus flytrap Dionaea muscipula living on nutrient-poor soil, is dependent solely on a diet based on small animals that is captures. When the prey touches the sensory hairs the trap closes in a fraction of a second. On-going mechanic-stimulation activates the gland to release hydrolases, and it digests the prey and the plant absorbs prey-derived nutrients. Whilst studying the latter function we spotted the ammonium transporter DmAMT1 was localized in the Dionaea gland complex with its expression induced upon hydrolase secretion. From biophysical analyses we suggest that glandular DmAMT1 and membrane potential readjustments of the endocrine cells provide for effective adaptation to varying, prey-derived ammonium sources. An animal meal, however, comes with a high sodium load.  We have identified a Dionaea gene carrying features of a bacterial Na+ channel type.  Our studies indicate that Dionaea glands operate this Na+ selective, high capacity channel to provide the osmotic potential that supports water influx and maintenance of trap turgor while the feeding on its salty victim.

    During the seminar the molecular nature and mechanism of feeding cycle of the most exciting green carnivore will be discussed.

  • Short biography

    Rainer Hedrich pioneered the biology of plant ion channels and is one the very few leaders in this field. He introduced the patch clamp technique into the plant field by demonstrating for the first time the existence of plant ion channels. His ground-breaking discovery resulted in the elucidation of the structure-function relationships of plant ion channels, established the key role of ion channels in plants and inspired the formation of a new research field, which is part of today's plant biology text books. His lab made outstanding contributions to uncover the functions of plant ion channels, co-transporters and pumps. The Hedrich lab showed crucial functions of these proteins for plant physiology and development. Using physiological and molecular-genetic and molecular-genetic analysis his lab revealed the voltage and pH sensor of plant potassium channels, uncovered their selectivity filters, demonstrated the interaction sites of important components to channel proteins and studied subsequent signalling events (PNAS 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011).

    Besides his strong position the transport field (Plant Cell 2006, 2008) Rainer Hedrich is also a leader in the field of guard cell turgor and osmoregulation (PNAS 2007). Recently he succeeded in reconstitution of the fast ABA signalling pathway of guard cells from receptor to anion channels activation, via protein phosphorylation, by using a drought stress protein kinase/phosphatase pair (PNAS 2009). Besides basic research, the Hedrich lab contributed to the development of new model systems by elucidating the molecular basis of endocrinology of carnivory by studying fast plant traps and together with colleagues generated drought and salt resistant plants which will be of great importance for agriculture.

    In recognition of his contributions Rainer Hedrich received the following awards in the last 10 years; Körber-Award for the European Research, 2003, highly cited researcher among 250 in animal and plant sciences, ISI Web of Knowledge http://researchanalytics.thomsonreuters.com/highlycited/browse/), 2010, European
    Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant Award. He has an H-index of 56 and his papers have been cited 10247 times (ISI Web of Science).

  • Harold Woolhouse

    The Harold Woolhouse Lecture is named in honour of the former Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute. Professor Woolhouse finished his PhD at the University of Adelaide before spending much of his early career (during the 1960s and 1970s) researching heavy metals and senescence. Between 1980 and 1989, Professor Woolhouse developed and directed the world class plant biology research facility, the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich, United Kingdom. In 1990, he became Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute and was responsible for the co-location of the South Australian Research and Development Institute and Primary Industries and Resources South Australia on the Waite Campus. He also masterminded the merging of Roseworthy Agricultural College with the University of Adelaide. He left Adelaide in August 1995 due to ill health and passed away in June 1996.

  • For more information or to make an appointment with Prof. Hedrich please contact matthew.gilliham@adelaide.edu.au; 08 8313 8145

 

The R.H. Symons Lecture 2014

Title: Entomovectoring: targeted precision biocontrol by using bees

Thursday 27th February, 2014, 4.00 pm

  • Venue, Speaker and Lecture Details

    Date/Time: Thursday 27th February 2014, 4 pm
    Location: Charles Hawker Conference Centre, Waite Campus
    Speaker: Professor Heikki Hokkanen, University of Helsinki, Finland.

    The audience is invited to stay and talk with the speaker over drinks and finger food following the seminar.

    The last decade has seen a sharp increase in the use of bees as vectors for the targeted delivery of a range of biological control agents. The entomovectoring technique has been shown an effective, sustainable and economic method for the control of several pests and diseases. The Europe-wide, ongoing EU funded project, "BICOPOLL" uses as a case study the control of strawberry grey mould Botrytis cinerea, with the biocontrol fungus Gliocladium catenulatum, vectored by honey bees or bumble bees, and successful trials have been now been finalised in six European countries. So far, all field tests using entomovectoring and Gliocladium catenulatum (Prestop Mix) have shown excellent control results, under all weather conditions and over a wide geographical spread (from Finland to Turkey). Strawberry growers in Finland have taken up the technique at an exponential rate. This presentation will highlight the recent advances, current research and benefits of entomovectoring.

    Key words: honey bee, bumble bee, Botrytis cinerea, biological control, Gliocladium catenulatum

  • Short biography

    Heikki Hokkanen obtained his PhD at Cornell University, USA, and has subsequently focused in his research on a wide range of biological control approaches and applications. While based at the University of Helsinki, Finland, he has worked for extensive periods in Germany, France and the UK.

    As a Professor of Agricultural Zoology, at the University of Helsinki, Finland, he combined his two passions, biocontrol and bees. In entomovectoring, bees are used as vectors of biological control agents to deliver microbial antagonists of pests and diseases on crop plants. A pilot study on the control of strawberry grey mould was first conducted over four years in Finland, and has subsequently been successfully tested in many other countries (including Italy, Turkey, Slovenia, and Estonia). Other crops and target pests and diseases have also been researched, including other berries, fruits, oilseed rape, and greenhouse crops. He currently coordinates two major European grants on Entomovectoring.

    Heikki was recently selected an Honorary Member of the International Organization of Biological Control (IOBC). He participates in a number of international advisory boards on biocontrol and pest management. He was for 10 years the Editor-in-Chief of the IOBC journal "BioControl", and is currently the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Arthropod-Plant Interactions. He also is the Founding Editor of the book series "Progress in Biological Control" (Springer)."

  • R.H. (Bob) Symons

    This lecture is named in honour of former Emeritus Professor in Plant Science at the Waite, Professor Bob Symons. Professor Symons had a long and distinguished career with the University of Adelaide, joining the University in 1962. The main research by Professor Symons between 1962 and 1990 in the Department of Biochemistry focused upon understanding the structure and function of viral nucleic acids in relation to infectivity and the development of plant disease. However, he also contributed significantly to the understanding of protein synthesis and ribozyme activity. Professor Symons was also responsible for commercial applications of his research leading to the establishment of the first Australian company to produce and market molecular biological for research. In 1991, Professor Symons moved his research to the Waite Campus where he focused upon viral diseases of grapevine and established Waite Diagnostics which still provides a service to grape growers in the diagnosis and control of grapevine pathogens. He retired in 2002 due to ill health and passed away in October 2006.

    For more information or to make an appointment with Prof. Hokkanen please contact Katja Hogendoorn at katja.hogendoorn@adelaide.edu.au; 08 8313 6555

 

Title: Root-knot nematodes deploy a complex repertoire of peptide hormone mimics to subvert plant developmental processes
The R.H. Symons Lecture 2013

Friday 24th May, 2013, 3.00 pm

  • Venue, Speaker and Lecture Details

    Date/Time: Friday 24th May 2013, 3 pm
    Location: Plant Research Centre Auditorium, Waite Campus
    Speaker: Professor David Bird, North Carolina State University, USA.

    The audience is invited to stay and talk with the speaker over drinks and finger food following the seminar.

    Root-knot nematodes (RKN; Meloidogyne spp.) are a pervasive pest of vascular plants and cause substantial crop loss worldwide. Although RKN has been studied for over a century, the molecular basis underpinning the intimate plant-nematode symbiosis remains arcane. However, technology advancements, primarily in sequencing (RNA-Seq) and NMR, have opened new routes for traditional genetic and biochemical analyses respectively. Exploiting its small diploid genome, and ability to both self- and out-cross, together with colleagues at UC-Davis, we established M. hapla as a model RKN. Lines capturing phenotypic diversity from the field have been inbred and crossed. The resultant mapping populations segregate genotypic diversity, which we are correlating with nematode and plant phenotypes. The resolution of these eQTL analyses is such to permit the identification of candidate genes in the M. hapla genome. Each of the parents has been sequenced, and the VW9 transcriptome defined by more than a billion mapped Illumina reads. Experiments to understand changes in the transcriptome throughout the RKN life cycle are in progress. Using a targeted computational approach, we identified multiple families of plant peptide hormone mimics encoded within the RKN genome. One family, C-terminal Encoded Peptide (CEP) has previously been implicated in the suppression of lateral roots and formation of galls, a hallmark of RKN pathology. RKN uniquely encode and express mimics of CEP during parasitism and RKN-encoded CEP phenocopy endogenous hormones in bioassays. Using NMR, we compared tertiary structures of plant and nematode encoded CEP hormones. In-solution models reveal family-specific structural properties that have been implicated in receptor binding, and molecular dynamic simulations demonstrated relative conformational plasticity of host CEP. We are currently modeling the solved tertiary structures on to computationally inferred receptors.

  • Short biography

    David Bird grew up in Adelaide and attended St. Peters College and the University of Adelaide, where he received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry under the guidance of Julian Wells. He then spent three years researching C. elegans developmental genetics as a post-doctoral fellow with Don Riddle in Columbia, Missouri. In 1987, David joined the faculty of the University of California-Riverside, and in 1995 moved to NC State University to join the faculty in Plant Pathology. Dr. Bird sits on numerous university and professional panels and committees, including having served as Chair of the University Research Committee, as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Nematology, and as a member of the Science Advisory Board of Divergence Inc.
    He currently serves as Director of the NCSU Bioinformatics Research Center and as Director of the University's Genomic Sciences Graduate Program. In 2012, Dr. Bird was named William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor.
    The primary focus of Dr. Bird's research group is to understand the mechanisms underlying parasitic interactions between nematodes and plants. David was a pioneer in framing the key questions in the context of nematode and host development. Together with collaborators world-wide, his group has been instrumental in establishing the root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne hapla, as the preeminent genetic system to model less-tractable nematode-host interactions, and as a platform for comparative genomics (www.hapla.org). His current program also emphasizes vaccine development for malaria-like diseases of cats and dogs.

  • R.H. (Bob) Symons

    This lecture is named in honour of former Emeritus Professor in Plant Science at the Waite, Professor Bob Symons. Professor Symons had a long and distinguished career with the University of Adelaide, joining the University in 1962. The main research by Professor Symons between 1962 and 1990 in the Department of Biochemistry focused upon understanding the structure and function of viral nucleic acids in relation to infectivity and the development of plant disease. However, he also contributed significantly to the understanding of protein synthesis and ribozyme activity. Professor Symons was also responsible for commercial applications of his research leading to the establishment of the first Australian company to produce and market molecular biological for research. In 1991, Professor Symons moved his research to the Waite Campus where he focused upon viral diseases of grapevine and established Waite Diagnostics which still provides a service to grape growers in the diagnosis and control of grapevine pathogens. He retired in 2002 due to ill health and passed away in October 2006.

    Details on Prof. Bird's interests and current work.

    For more information or to make an appointment with Prof. Bird please contact matthew.gilliham@adelaide.edu.au; 08 8313 8145

 

Title: Harold Woolhouse's Vision of Science: Translating to the 21st Century at the John Innes Centre
The Harold Woolhouse Lecture 2012

Tuesday 2nd October, 2012, 4.00pm

  • Venue, Speaker and Lecture Details

    Date/Time: Tuesday 2nd October 2012, 4.00pm
    Location: Plant Research Centre Auditorium, Waite Campus
    Speaker: Professor Dale Sanders FRS, John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK

    The audience is invited to stay and talk with the speaker over drinks and finger food following the seminar.

    Harold Woolhouse (1932-1996) led the John Innes Institute (JII), then Centre (JIC), from 1980 until his departure for the Waite in 1990. This decade saw enormous developments at the JIC, both scientifically and organisationally. The growing realisation that Arabidopsis might serve as a model plant led to enormous strides at JIC in understanding the molecular controls of plant development. Arguably, synthetic biology also had its origins at that time at JIC with the molecular cloning of a whole biosynthetic pathway from Streptomyces and its expression in a heterologous host. At a time of economic recession, Woolhouse oversaw the rise to international pre-eminence of the newly-formed JIC as the John Innes Institute merged with the Plant Breeding Institute from Cambridge and the Nitrogen Fixation Laboratory from Brighton. Simultaneously, Woolhouse negotiated with the Gatsby Foundation to have The Sainsbury Laboratory co-located with the JIC in Norwich.

    In this lecture, I will reflect on some of this history and what it means for us in the 21st Century. I will advance Woolhouse's philosophy that performance of ground-breaking science is highly compatible with a strategic remit. I will show with examples from JIC research how understanding the fundamental biology of organisms underpins our ability to exploit them sustainably for the benefit of humanity. Finally, I will turn to some of Woolhouse's own scientific interests which included research on transition metal tolerance in plants. I will show through examples of work in my own laboratory how molecular insights into metal tolerance not only can tell us about metal specificity determinants in the relevant proteins, but how this information might be harnessed to yield biotechnological solutions to global health issues.

  • Short biography

    Dale Sanders received his Bachelor's degree from the University of York and his PhD from Cambridge University. While there he discovered that chloride uptake into plants is powered by a protonmotive force. During a five-year post-doc at Yale University School of Medicine, he used electrophysiological approaches to show how the activity of the plasma membrane proton pump of Neurospora is regulated by intracellular pH and, ultimately, by metabolism.

    Returning to a lectureship at the University of York in 1983, the Sanders lab focussed on plant membrane transport of cations - particularly of calcium and its role in cellular signalling, and of potassium, as the principal inorganic cation in plants. This research resulted in the identification of novel pathways for vacuolar calcium release during signalling. Electrophysiological approaches were used to demonstrate that high-affinity potassium transport across plant plasma membranes is mediated by carriers while low-affinity transport is channel-mediated.

    Dale Sanders was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001 and in the same year he was awarded, with four others, the Koerber European Science Prize. He served as Head of the Biology Department at York from 2004 until 2010, when he moved to Norwich to become Director of the John Innes Centre.

  • Harold Woolhouse

    The 2nd Harold Woolhouse Lecture is named in honour of the former Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute. Professor Woolhouse finished his PhD at the University of Adelaide before spending much of his early career (during the 1960s and 1970s) researching heavy metals and senescence. Between 1980 and 1989, Professor Woolhouse developed and directed the world class plant biology research facility, the John Innes Centre (JIC) in Norwich, United Kingdom. In 1990, he became Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute and was responsible for the co-location of the South Australian Research and Development Institute and Primary Industries and Resources South Australia on the Waite Campus. He also masterminded the merging of Roseworthy Agricultural College with the University of Adelaide. He left Adelaide in August 1995 due to ill health and passed away in June 1996.

    Details on Prof. Sander's interests and current work can be seen here: http://www.jic.ac.uk/profile/dale-sanders.asp

    For more information or to make an appointment with Prof. Sanders please contact matthew.gilliham@adelaide.edu.au; 08 8313 8145

Title: "Chemical genetic dissection of cellulose synthesis"
The Robyn van Heeswijck Lecture 2012

Friday 21st September, 2012, 4.00pm

  • Venue, Speaker and Lecture Details

    Date/Time: Friday 21st September 2012, 4.00pm
    Location: Plant Research Centre Auditorium, Waite Campus
    Speaker: Associate Professor Seth DeBolt, University of Kentucky, USA.

    The audience is invited to stay and talk with the speaker over drinks and finger food following the seminar.

    "Chemical genetic dissection of cellulose synthesis"

    Cell morphogenesis and diversity of cell shape form the fundamental building blocks for development of multicellular organisms. Plant cells are delimited by a rigid cell wall that resists internal turgor pressure but must extend in a controlled and organized manner to allow the cell to grow and acquire a specific shape. The major load-bearing constituent of the higher-plant cell wall is cellulose, which forms crystalline polymers that are highly organized with respect to growth pattern. Based on the proven utility of pharmacological inhibitors to dissect complex cellular processes, we have isolated compounds that inhibit cellulose biosynthesis by chemical library screening and via chemical profiling of microorganisms that colonize and exploit plant cells. From this collection of inhibitors, we delineate distinct classes of inhibition mechanism and use these phenotypes to learn about the insertion, guidance and regulation of cellulose synthase.

    Selected References

    Harris D, Corbin K, Wang T, Gutierrez R, Bertolo AL, Petti C, Smilgies DM, Estevez JM, Bonetta D, Urbanowicz B, Ehrhardt DW, Somerville C, Rose JCK, Hong M and DeBolt S (2012) Cellulose microfibril crystallinity is reduced by mutating C-terminal transmembrane region residues CESA1A-V903 and CESA3T-I942 Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2012-00352

    Mendu, V, Shearin, T, Campbell E Jr., Stork J, Jae J, Crocker M, Huber G and DeBolt S (2012) Global Bioenergy Potential From High Lignin Agricultural Residue Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 2012-00352

    Mendu V, Griffiths J, Persson, S, Stork J, Voiniciuc C, Downie AB, Haughn G, DeBolt S (2011) Subfunctionalization of cellulose synthases in seed coat epidermal cells mediate secondary radial wall synthesis and mucilage attachment Plant Physiol 157(1):441-53

    Stork J, Harris D, Williams B, Griffiths J, Haughn G, Beisson F, Li Y, Mendu V, DeBolt S (2010) CELLULOSE SYNTHASE9 serves a non-redundant role in secondary cell wall synthesis in the radial wall of Arabidopsis epidermal testa cells Plant Physiol 153, 560-569.

    DeBolt S, Scheible WR, Schrick K, Aurer M, Carroll A, Hematy K, Bouvier P, Nair M, Schaller H, Zemla M, and Somerville C. (2009) Mutations in UDP glucose:sterol-glucosyltransferase in Arabidopsis cause transparent testa phenotype and suberization defect in seeds. Plant Physiology 151: 78-87.

    Gu Y, Deng Z, Paredez AR, DeBolt S, Wang Z and Somerville C (2008) Arabidopsis Prefoldin6 is involved in delivery of tubulin to cytosolic chaperonin Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105, 1109-1115.

    DeBolt S, Gutierrez R, Ehrhardt DW, Melo CV, Cutler S, Ross L, Somerville C and Bonetta D (2007) Morlin, a novel inhibitor of cortical microtubule dynamics and cellulose synthase movement. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104, 5854-5859.

    DeBolt, S., Gutierrez, R., Ehrhardt, D.W., Somerville, C (2007) Non-motile cellulose synthase rosettes repeatedly accumulate within localized regions at the plasma membrane in Arabidopsis hypocotyl cells following 2,6-dichlorobenzonitrile (DCB) treatment. Plant Physiol 145: 334-338.

    DeBolt S, Cook DR and Ford CM (2006) L-Tartaric acid synthesis from vitamin C in higher plants. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103, 5608-5613

     

  • Short biography

    Seth DeBolt is an Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky. After earning his undergraduate degree from the University of Sydney in agricultural chemistry, he went to the Waite institute (University of Adelaide) to gain a doctorate based on how grapevines convert vitamin C into the important wine chemical, tartaric acid. He then changed paths and learned Arabidopsis genetics as a post doctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institute for Science (USA). His laboratories current research goals are focused on the characterization of genes involved in cell wall synthesis, stemming from an overarching interests in the mechanisms of plant cell shape and morphogenesis.

  • Robyn van Heeswijck

    The Robyn van Heeswijck Lecture is named in honour of the former Senior Lecturer whose life and world class research was cut short after a courageous battle with cancer. This Lecture recognises early career researchers that share her passion and commitment to plant science industries. While at the University of Adelaide (1995-2002), Robyn van Heeswijck researched various aspects of grapevine and molecular biology, with a particularly strong contribution to the area of nitrogen metabolism and phylloxera research. Dr Heeswijck graduated top of her B.Sc. (Hons) degree at the University of New South Wales to be awarded their University Medal. She briefly worked as a research assistant before pursuing her PhD at the famous Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen (1980-1986). Following her return to Australia in 1987, Robyn worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University. In the Department of Agriculture, Victoria (1990-1994), she played a key role in establishing the Victorian government's plant biotechnology unit which has become the most powerful and well-funded government plant biotechnology centre in Australia, a true legacy of Robyn's vision, skill and determination. Robyn van Heeswijck (1956-2003) is survived by her husband, Peter Høj, and two children, Stine and Torbjørn.

    Details on Assoc. Prof. DeBolt's interests and current work can be seen here: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/Horticulture/DeBolt%20Lab/Site/Welcome.html

    For more information or to make an appointment with Assoc. Prof. DeBolt please contact matthew.gilliham@adelaide.edu.au; 08 8313 8145

Title: "Chemical genetic dissection of cellulose synthesis"
The Robyn van Heeswijck Lecture 2012

Thursday 5th July, 2012, 4.00pm

  • Venue, Speaker and Lecture Details

    Date/Time: Thursday 5th July 2012, 4.00pm
    Location: Plant Research Centre Auditorium, Waite Campus
    Speaker: Professor Ed Buckler, Institute for Genomic Diversity, USDA-ARS, Cornell University, USA.

    Details on Prof. Buckler's interests and current work can be seen here: http://www.maizegenetics.net/

    The audience is invited to stay and talk with the speaker over drinks and finger food following the seminar.

    Uniting the world's crop diversity for trait dissection and breeding: examples from maize and grape

    Maize and grape are two of the most diverse crops and species in the world.  This diversity is a tremendous resource for understanding the genetic basis of complex traits and for plant breeding in general.  However, it poses both a serious problem and substantial opportunity in relating these 10s of millions of variable sites to the complex traits they control.  Genomic technology has reduced costs by nearly 100,000-fold in the last few years, which is providing tremendous opportunities for these high diversity crops.  In maize, this variation is be related to important traits such a nutritional quality to local adaptation to hybrid vigor, while grape shows a similar potential if there is a greater focus on breeding and genetics.    The opportunities for deploying natural variation for a more sustainable and productive agriculture will be discussed.

    For more information or to make an appointment with Prof. Buckler please contact matthew.gilliham@adelaide.edu.au

  • Keith Finlay

    Keith Warren Finlay was employed as the Senior Plant Breeder and Crop Geneticist at the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide in 1955.
    During his time at the Waite (1955-1969), Finlay was responsible for building the reputation and scale of the Waite’s cereal breeding programs through his mechanical innovations and collection of large numbers of barley and wheat cultivars. After leaving the University, Finlay was the Deputy-Director General of the International Centre for the Improvement of Wheat and Maize influencing the development of plant breeding internationally. He died in 1980.

Title: "Chemical genetic dissection of cellulose synthesis"The Robyn van Heeswijck Lecture 2012

Date/Time: Tuesday 31st January 2012, 10.00am

  • Venue, Speaker and Lecture Details

    Date/Time: Tuesday 31st January 2012, 10.00am
    Location: Charles Hawker Conference Centre, Waite Campus
    Speaker: Professor Ismail Cakmak, Biological Sciences & Bioengineering Program, Faculty of Engineering & Natural Sciences, Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey.

    Details on Ismail's interests and current work can be seen here: http://myweb.sabanciuniv.edu/cakmak/

    The audience is invited to stay and talk with the speaker at the morning tea that follows the seminar.

    Zinc Deficiency: A Global Nutritional Problem in Crop Production and Human Nutrition (A Possible Australian Contribution to this Global Problem)

    Zinc deficiency is a well-documented global micronutrient deficiency problem in human populations and also in agricultural soils. Major health complications caused by Zn deficiency include impaired brain development and function and weakened immune system to deadly infectious diseases. Zinc deficiency is known to be responsible for deaths of nearly 450,000 children under 5 years old annually (Black et al., 2008, Lancet). Analyses made by a panel of 8 top-economists (including 5 Nobel Laureates) under the Copenhagen Consensus in 2008 (www.copenhagenconsensus.com) identified Zn deficiency, together with vitamin A deficiency, as the top priority global issue. Low dietary intake of Zn is the major reason for high incidence of Zn deficiency in humans, in those regions where both soils are low in chemically available Zn and cereal grains are the major source of calorie intake. Majority of cereal-cultivated soils have a range of adverse soil chemical factors which limit the capacity of crops to absorb adequate amount of Zn from soils. Increasing Zn concentration of food crops is, therefore, an important global agronomic target and humanitarian challenge.

    Developing new genotypes with high root Zn-uptake and seed Zn-deposition capacity, by using selective plant breeding, is a cost-effective and sustainable approach. However, the success of a breeding programs highly depends on sufficient amount of readily available pools of Zn in the soil. A zinc fertilizer strategy represents a quick (and complimentary) solution to alleviate Zn deficiency-related problems in human populations. Such a fertilizer strategy can also contribute to better yields in potentially Zn-deficient soils. Increasing evidence is available from field trials showing that foliar application of Zn fertilizers both fortifies grain Zn concentration up to 2- or 3-fold as well as improving crop yields. Australia, as a major wheat exporting country, can play a significant role in reducing the high incidence of Zn deficiency in its existing wheat export markets in Asia and Africa. A major part of wheat exported from Australia is shipped to the developing world. A national program should be developed to biofortify a part of the wheat produced in Australia by using agronomic tools as a short-term solution. This Zn-biofortified wheat would be exported to selected target countries/regions where Zn deficiency is already know to pose a serious health problem and where Australia has an existing aid program. Targeted human groups should be monitored for selected nutrition and development parameters to assess the health impacts of the Zn-enriched Australian wheat in those countries.

    The audience is invited to stay and talk with the speaker and colleagues over refreshments directly following the lecture.

    For more information or to make an appointment with Ismail please contact michael.mclaughlin@adelaide.edu.au

  • J.A. Prescott

    Professor J.A. Prescott was the first Professor of Agricultural Chemistry appointed at the Waite Research Institute, University of Adelaide, in 1924 in its formative years. He was later appointed as Chief of the Division of Soils CSIR in 1929, and from 1938 to 1955 he was the Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute, South Australia. His research in soil science and climatology saw him elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1951 and a foundation fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences in 1954. See a detailed biograpy of J.A. Prescott.

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