The African Centre for Gene Technologies (ACGT) partnered with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) to host the 9th Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum. The forum was held at ARC Cooperate Offices in Hatfield on the 22nd of May 2014. The theme for the forum was Plant-pathogen interactions and saw just over a 100 scientists attending the meeting.
Dr Jasper Rees and Ms Lerato Mpye from the ARC played an integral part in organising the forum with the ACGT staff. Through Dr Rees’ knowledge of the field and its stakeholders, the organising committee were able to secure Prof Zacharias Pretorius from the University of Free-State as the external Keynote speaker. Prof Pretorius’ research field explores the resistance of field crops to diseases. He has extensive experience in rust disease of wheat, barley, oat sunflower, drybean, soybean, lentil and maize.
Alongside Prof Pretorius, two more keynote speakers from the ACGT partner institutions were featured on the day’s programme. Dr Dave Berger and Dr Belinda Janse van Rensburg, from University of Pretoria and ARC (Potchefstroom) respectively, gave keynote presentations for two separate sessions. Dr Belinda Janse van Rensburg also highlighted the facilities that they have at Potchefstroom. Highlighting facilities at the forum is an important part of the forum as it opens up opportunities for future collaborations.
The forum also had a host of young scientists from the various ACGT partner institutions giving talks on their current research. This list of young scientists included Ms Febe Wilken (University of Pretoria), Ms Sarah Rogans (University of the Witwatersrand), Mr Cornelius Vilakazi and Ms Robyn Klemptner (University of Johannesburg), and Ms Thulile Nhlapo (Agricultural Research Council).
The guests got an opportunity to network during the Poster session as well as interact with a representative from Inqaba Boitec (forum main sponsor). The guests were from all the ACGT partner institutions (ARC, Wits, UP, UJ and CSIR) as well as from UNISA and North-West University. The guests also came from the ARC campuses based in Bethlehem and Potchefstroom.
See below a list of available talks from the forum:
- RNA-sequencing reveals insights into Eucalyptus defence against Phytophthora cinnamon – Ms. Febe Wilken (UP)
- Comparison of microRNA populations in South Africa cassava mosaic virus-infected tolerant and susceptible cassava cultivars – Ms. Sarah Rogans (Wits)
- Phenotypic and genetic evidence for tolerance to bacterial wilt in Arabidopsis plants – Prof. Dave Berger (UP)
- The identification of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-interacting proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana plasma membrane – Mr. Cornelius Vilakazi (UJ)
- Metagenomic analysis of sweetpotato using high-throughput deep sequencing – Ms. Thulile Nhlapo (ARC)
- DNA/RNA analysis: Sequenom’s MassARRAY Technology – Mr. Stefan Schrader (Sequenom)
- The effect of plant stressors on F. verticillioides infection and fumonisin synthesis in maize – Dr. Belinda Janse van Rensburg (ARC)
- Comparative phosphopeptide enrichment of ergosterol-treated A. thaliana leaves – Ms. Robyn Klemptner (UJ)