Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Plant anaerobiosis group meets this week at IRRI

The International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis (ISPA) has chosen IRRI to be the venue of its eleventh international conference, happening this week (7-11 October 2013).  Photos 

The conference draws 130 members and other scientists from around the world, all of whom are involved in research on plant responses to impeded aeration. This year’s theme, Translational Science, brings the focus on solutions to major global challenges, including food security and environmental safety.

Discussions during the conference are geared towards research solutions collected through eight sessions: anaerobic metabolism; wetland and aquatic ecology; rice responses to flooding and progress in breeding; ecophysiological adaptation to flooding; interaction of flooding with other abiotic stresses; hormonal interactions during flooding; low oxygen sensing and signaling; and water-logging in upland crops, physiology, and breeding.  An exciting array of scientific findings from different corners of the world is lined up for each of these sessions.

Robert Zeigler, IRRI director general, recognizes the alignment between IRRI’s mission and the Society’s scientific focus, acknowledging that “the significant breakthroughs in rice genetics and genomics make it a sensible model for studying plant anaerobiosis.” 

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr. Zeigler stated that “IRRI prides itself in working with the best scientists around the world.” He believes in a ‘convenient convergence,’ that overcoming constraints that poor rice farmers face today will prepare the world for future climate change. “With a global set of partnerships, systematic application of science can make a difference,”  he adds.

Laurentius ACJ Voesenek, ISPA president, commends the outputs of the international networks created by the ISPA: “The joint research activities have generated significant scientific breakthroughs transforming agriculture and livelihoods.” In his keynote speech,  Dr. Voesenek acknowledged IRRI as the “center of fundamental and applied research in the world, and, hence, a fitting hub of translational biology.”

For discussion in this year’s conference are future challenges in flooding research, including: flooding as a compound stress, oxygen levels at subcellular levels, stagnant flooding, cysteine oxidation and oxygen-sensing, N-end rule dependent and independent regulation, learning from nature, and mechanisms of priming.

Also in a keynote speech, Achim Dobermann, IRRI deputy director general for research, mentioned that science and technology plays a leading role under the United Nations’ goals for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and that scientists should participate in the process by drafting technology road maps, monitoring performance, doing problem-solving R&D, and sharing knowledge. Dr. Dobermann is a member of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Abdelbagi Ismail, ISPA international conference director, was responsible for bringing the ISPA conference to IRRI.  Dr. Ismail works on abiotic stress tolerance of rice in ecologies frequently challenged by flooding and salt stress. His work has brought him in close collaboration with other scientists studying plants subjected to oxygen deficiency as a result of flooding and submergence. He has been a member of the ISPA executive committee since 2001. 

ISPA conferences are held every three years.  The 2010 conference was held at Volterra, Italy.  Details about the next conference will be determined at the ISPA general assembly on the last day of the current conference.

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