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Crop Biotechnology, physiology and translational genomics to feed and fuel the world

The symposium on the occasion of the annual meeting of the American Society of Agronomy will highlight cutting-edge strategies to enable precision breeding of the next generation of high-yielding, stress-resistant crops.


Plant Variety.

Accelerated crop improvement is needed to meet both global population growth and climate change generated stresses on crops. The “Crop Biotechnology, physiology and translational genomics to feed and fuel the world” symposium at the Translating Visionary Science to Practice ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting will address these topics.

The meeting is being held virtually, Nov. 9-13, 2020 and is hosted by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America. Media are invited; preregistration is required.

The presentations are:

1. “Integrating Pan-Genomic Information with High-Resolution Phenotyping in Sorghum,” will be presented by Todd Mocker, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Sorghum is the fifth most widely grown cereal crop worldwide. And, as a C4 crop, it is also an attractive system for the development of bioenergy feedstocks. It has innate resilience to drought and heat stresses, versatile end-uses, and a rapidly developing suite of genetic, genomic and phenomic tools. Drought is a complex trait, and identifying the genes underlying sorghum’s innate drought tolerance and how they are regulated requires advanced approaches in genetics, genomics, and phenotyping. This talk covers the work to sequence approximately 400 sorghum genes, advancing the knowledge about this crop and its adaptability.

2. “Increasing Crop Productivity Sustainability by Bioengineering Improved Photosynthetic Efficiency,” will be presented by Stephen Long, University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. Photosynthesis, which is among the best known of plant processes, falls far below its theoretical efficiency in current crop genotypes. Theoretical analysis and in silico engineering have suggested a number of points at different levels of organization from metabolism to crop canopy structure where efficiency of light, nitrogen and water use could be improved. Bioengineering has begun to validate some of these suggested improvements with substantially greater crop productivity. This will be illustrated with specific examples from Long’s teamwork where increased productivity in both C3 and C4 crops has been achieved.

3. “Phenomics and Genetic Analysis of Heat Tolerance in Rice during Grain Development,” will be presented by Harkamal Walia, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Rising global temperatures during cropping seasons are resulting in yield losses. These yield losses are emerging as a major obstacle for important cereal crops such as wheat and rice and hence global food security. Rice grain development is very sensitive to high temperatures. Given the heat sensitivity of developing grains, this team explored the natural variation for high temperature tolerance using a suite of phenotyping approaches including an image-based, non-destructive platform for panicle imaging. Walia will present results from these genetic analyses at panicle level over spatial and temporal scale and grain-related response to high temperatures.

4. “Metabolic Engineering of Oilseed Crops for Enhanced Oil Production and Increasing Tolerance to Abiotic Stresses,” will be presented by Om Parkash Dhankher, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Renewable transportation fuels (biodiesel and green diesel) from plant seed oils are considered as environmentally and economically feasible alternatives to petroleum-derived fuels. Dhankher will describe research with Camelina which has unique seed and oil attributes. This presentation will review several key genes and gene networks associated with significant changes. Overexpression of candidate genes showed further increase in oil and seed yield. We are now translating this strategy in edible oilseed crops such as Indian mustard and soybean for increasing edible oil contents and seed yields. Ultimately, their aim is to stack the genes and gene networks responsible for increasing seed and oil yields as well as abiotic stress tolerance to enable these cultivars to growth on marginal lands and under extreme environmental conditions.

Presentations may be watched asynchronously, and there will be a scheduled Q&A time to speak with presenters during the meeting.

Presentations will be available for online viewing for 90 days after the meeting for all registrants. For more information about the Translating Visionary Science to Practice 2020 meeting, visit the American Society of Agronomy's website.


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