Symposium brings together experts from around the world

Posted on October 15, 2015

Scientists and industry leaders in plant science recently shared the latest advances in plant breeding at the Second Annual DuPont Plant Breeding Symposium Africa, held at the University of Pretoria (UP). The only student-led symposium sponsored by DuPont Pioneer in Africa, the meeting brought together researchers, students and industry leaders from across the globe through live streaming on the Internet, and Instagram (Dupont_Africa).

Hosted by the Genomics Research Institute (GRI) and the Department of Plant Science at UP, the meeting was organised by a postgraduate student committee, led by David Nsibo, a PhD student in Plant Science, with the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) from Uganda and Joel Dube, a PhD student in Plant Pathology, from Zimbabwe. The rest of the Committee consisted of Megan MacCaghey (graduate student on a USAID RIFA Fellowship visit to the Department of Plant Science at UP, from the University of California Davis, USA), Katrien De Ridder (MSc student, Plant Pathology, FABI), Johan Liversage, (PhD student in Biotechnology, FABI), and Katlego Masike (honours student in Plant Science). The event was co-ordinated by Prof Dave Berger of the Department of Plant Science, Dr Rikus Kloppers of Pannar Seed (Pty) Ltd and Dr Tabare Abadie of DuPont Pioneer, USA.

The Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Prof Jean Lubuma opened the symposium and congratulated the organising committee for being at the forefront of the meeting and for promoting UP’s vision of being a leading research intensive university in Africa.

The topic for this year’s symposium, "Current innovations in insect resistance management and pest control", highlighted the challenges faced by various players in the agricultural sector, as well as scientific research conducted worldwide, to address them.

Speakers included the Vice-President of Crop Genetics Research and Development at DuPont Pioneer, John Arbuckle, as well as academics from the North West University, the University of the Free State, the Agricultural Research Council and UP. The interdisciplinary nature of the event was illustrated by the variety of speakers from UP, namely Prof Kerstin Kruger, (Department of Zoology and Entomology), Dr Juan Vorster (Department of Plant Production and Soil Science) and Dr Bridget Crampton (Department of Plant Science).

Ms Brigitte Langenhoven, a PhD student at the CFPR group at the UP Department of Plant Science won the best student poster presentation.

Participants came from China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United States and Zimbabwe. The meeting was one of more than 40 plant breeding symposia sponsored by DuPont at universities worldwide since 2008. The symposium presented students with a valuable opportunity to foster relationships with experts that could advance their research and professional careers in the future.


- Author Namhla Tshisela

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