Posts Tagged ‘plant’

Improved nutrition for billions of people around the world and the development of clean, green biofuels are two key aims of the new ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls, a $32 million biotechnology centre based at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus.

See the following Adelaide Now link: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/ipad/research-to-change-plants-for-better/story-fn6bqpju-1226115599605

Also: The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls http://www.adelaide.edu.au/plant-cell-walls/


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A number of staff members and students from the School recently attended the concurrent 4th Asian Conference on Plant Pathology and 18th Biennial Australasian Plant Pathology Society Conference in Darwin.

Ismail Ismail, a PhD student in Amanda Able’s laboratory should be congratulated for winning the student poster prize ($200) for his poster entitled ‘Are aggressiveness and proteinaceous toxin production related in Pyrenophora teres f. teres?’.

Professor Eileen Scott was also given the prestigious honour of being named a Fellow of the Australasian Plant Pathology Society as was Waite Research Institute Board member Professor Alison Stewart.

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Australia Talks Interview: Food Security

Food prices have hit an all-time high this year, according to the United Nations. In fact anger over sharp hikes in the price of food staples helped spark the bloody riots in the Middle East this year, as well as protests in India. So are we at the verge of a new food crisis? And could that have implications for global stability?

You will find a brief blurb about the interview on the Australia Talks website at:


The show airs at 6pm.

The telephone number if you wish to be a caller on the show is 1300 22 55 76.

The show airs on:

Adelaide 729AM | Brisbane 792AM | Canberra 846AM Darwin 657AM |
Gold Coast
90.1FM | Hobart 585AM Melbourne 621AM | Newcastle 1512AM
Perth 810AM | Sydney 576AM


Amanda Hudswell
Communications Manager – Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics Pty Ltd
Skype address : amanda.hudswell1

Plant Genomics Centre, Hartley Grove, Urrbrae SA 5064
Postal address : PMB 1, Glen Osmond South Australia 5064
Ph : 08 8303 7230 or : 0400 322 272


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On Friday the 18th of February plant breeding educators from around Australia met at the Waite Campus to review progress on the Australian Learning and Teaching Council funded ‘Plant Breeding by Example’ project.  The project is enabling plant breeding educators to develop teaching resources based on examples of plant breeding in practice from within their nearby breeding programs.  The resources are then shared, enabling the educators to have access to a range of new teaching materials from breeding programs based at or near other universities.

The project, led by Professor Diane Mather from the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine at The University of Adelaide, also involves plant breeding academics from the Universities of Western Australia, Tasmania, Melbourne, Sydney and Queensland.  The project began in September 2009 and is due to finish in September 2011.  To date nine examples have been developed, covering topics as diverse as the introduction of new plant varieties into East Timor, the domestication of Eucalyptus for forestry and barley breeding for targeted brewing markets. The examples not only enrich the teaching of plant breeding but will also demonstrate to students the diversity of potential careers within plant breeding. Each example also relates to a concept within plant breeding, enhancing the ability of students to understand these concepts within a range of contexts.

The resources will be used in plant breeding and other courses at the participating universities this year. At the completion of the project 18 examples will be shared via an international website to Australian and international plant breeding educators.

Examples of resources being developed by the ‘Plant Breeding by Example’ project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

Examples of resources being developed by the ‘Plant Breeding by Example’ project funded by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council.

Contributed by Heather Bray

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Prof Geoff Fincher

Listen to Professor Geoff Fincher’s talk which was given at  the inaugural Peter Waite Lecture on the 21st February, 2011.

Higher plants resist the forces of gravity and powerful lateral forces through the cumulative strength of the walls that surround individual cells. These walls consist mainly of cellulose, non-cellulosic polysaccharides and lignin, the proportions of which depend upon specific functions of the cell and its stage of development.Grasses, which include the common cereals, arguably represent the single most important group of plants for human societies worldwide. Foods prepared from cereals not only account for a high proportion of our daily caloric intake, but also contribute to human health through the provision of fibre in our diet. Thus, polysaccharides from the cell walls of cereal grains are becoming recognized for their potential to lower the risk of serious diet-related conditions such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and diverticular disease.

Residues of cereal crops and a broad range of perennial grasses are also showing considerable promise as future biomass energy crops and a number of groups in both the private and public sectors are attempting to manipulate the composition of cell walls to increase levels of extractable, easily degradable and ultimately fermentable wall polysaccharide in various grass species.

Here, the influence of the fine chemical structure of wall polysaccharides on properties such as molecular size, solubility and viscosity will be related to their beneficial effects in human diets, and manipulations of wall composition that might enhance conversion of plant biomass to bioethanol will be discussed.

Short Speaker Biography

Geoff Fincher is the Professor of Plant Science at the University of Adelaide and the Director of the newly established Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls. Geoff is also the leader of a new CSIRO Food Futures Flagship Cluster on ‘High Fibre Grain, for work on the role of wall polysaccharides in human health and nutrition.

Until recently Geoff was Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics. He was involved, with other colleagues, in setting up the ACPFG in 2003 and he was chair of the Executive Management Group from 2003-2010. He has also developed collaborative projects between the ACPFG and the DuPont-Pioneer company, and with ABB Grain Ltd.

From 2007-2010, Geoff and Mark Tester, together with colleagues at the ANU and the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry established the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility. As part of this Facility an automated, high throughput phenotyping glasshouse has been constructed on the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide. This component of the APPF is known as the ‘Plant Accelerator’.

Geoff was the Director of the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide from 2003-2010 and has been the Director of a GRDC-funded program on the functional genomics of growth and end-use quality in cereals for seven years. He serves as an editor for the Journal of Cereal Science and is also a long-serving member of the editorial board of Planta. He chairs the Scientific Advisory Committee of Biomime, the Swedish centre for wood functional genomics. For a more detailed CV see here.


Named in honour of the pastoralist and benefactor who donated Urrbrae estate to the University of Adelaide for the study of Agriculture, the inaugural Peter Waite Lecture was given by Professor Geoff Fincher of the University of Adelaide to celebrate Geoff’s significant contributions to the Waite Campus and Australian Science.

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Rather than using planned experiments, University of Adelaide researchers are using plant breeding data-sets to estimate the effects of genes that affect grain quality, disease resistance and adaptation in wheat. As the data has already been obtained, this can be faster and more cost effective than traditional methods, sometimes providing answers in months rather than years. As the populations are large and include cultivars and breeding lines in current use, the effects are usually immediately relevant to practical wheat breeding.

The University of Adelaide is conducting some of its breeding projects using these association genetics. These projects are led by Dr Howard Eagles (who is a senior researcher fellow of the University) using a mix of biotechnology, old data from past field trials, and advanced statistical methods. A practical use of the estimates is in cross prediction, allowing a breeder to simulate or set up crosses with enhanced desirable outcomes.

Just recently, Dr Eagles has been granted awards to work on two breeding research projects. The first projectis “Breeding tools to predict effects influencing adaptation and grain quality in dry environments” funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and the other “Applying wheat marker quality in India” funded by Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Dr Eagles will be working on these two projects in collaboration with Department of Primary Industries in Victoria.

Written by Ronan Zagado

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A ground-breaking research centre to address fundamental research on plant cell walls that underpins issues relating to human nutrition and biofuel production was recently announced.

Under the auspices of the Australian Research Council (ARC) and collaborating research institutions, the new Centre of Excellence will undertake cutting-edge research and development work, covering a wide range of research issues relating to cell wall biology and its applications in human nutrition and renewable energy production. The Centre will also undertake an extensive education and training program that will include postgraduate student training, the provision of scholarships, and more general community engagement programs.

Professor Geoffrey Fincher

Professor Geoffrey Fincher

According to Professor Geoff Fincher, the Director Designate for the new ARC Centre of Excellence, plant cell wall biology is an important area for research because it will be focused on cereals and grasses, which play major roles in human nutrition as well as in biofuel production. “In human health and nutrition, for instance, plant cell walls make up a major component  of   dietary fibre and hence a closer scientific study on the cell walls themselves is highly likely to reveal background information that can subsequently be evaluated by our partner investigators for industrial applications such as human health, pulp and paper manufacture, malting and brewing, flour milling and bread making, and biomass production for bioethanol ,” explained Dr. Rachel Burton, who is also a Chief Investigator of the Centre and is based at the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide.

Other Chief Investigators include Professor Tony Bacic (University of Melbourne) and Professor Mike Gidley (University of Queensland). The new Centre will also be closely collaborating with research institutions and industry partners in Australia, Scotland, Sweden, Germany, and the United States, all of whom will bring specialized scientific expertise and infrastructure, together with conduits for delivery of research outcomes into a wide range of potential applications. Based at the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus, the Centre will operate with an initial budget of $19.25 million from the ARC and approximately $12 million from collaborating and partner institutions, over seven years.

For more information about the new ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Wall Biology, contact Professor Fincher via telephone: 08 83037296, or email:  geoff.fincher@adelaide.edu.au.

Written by Ronan Zagado

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