InnovATEBIO National Biotechnology Education Center and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory invite you to a mini-symposium on emerging technologies in Agricultural Biotechnology.
1:00 pm EST Agricultural Genomics: The Rise of Genomes
Doreen Ware, Ph.D., Molecular Biologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service and Adjunct Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York
Breeding for 2050 and beyond will require designing plants for new environments and preparing them for new diseases, while they are still offshore. Key to this effort will be access to high-quality genomes and annotations for agricultural species and their pests. The genomes of many plants have been sequenced over the past decade, but these are usually limited to one reference assembly. The available genomes are often fragmented and missing complex repeat regions—and so lack sufficient high-level representation of genes and functional variation within a species. We are now entering an era where genome assemblies are reaching a theoretical maximum of contiguity and completeness—at ~0.1% the cost of 10 years ago. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to access genomic information to dissect complex agronomic traits and to provide insights into species evolution.
2:00 pm EST Emerging Trends in Agricultural Diagnostics
Zach Bateson, Ph.D., Research Scientist, National Agricultural Genotyping Center, Fargo, ND
Pests and pathogens account for up to 30% of the annual losses in food crops worldwide. All agricultural commodities are negatively impacted by pests, either directly in the field or indirectly through the supply chain. Molecular diagnostics to identify and manage threats in agriculture lag behind diagnostic applications in the medical sciences, despite deep connections between agriculture and human health. In this webinar, I describe the diagnostic biotechnology used at the National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC) and how diagnostic data provide insights into emerging threats across the agricultural community. Specifically, I discuss research underway at the NAGC that helps: 1) identify drivers of colony losses impacting the honeybee industry, 2) quickly detect herbicide resistant weeds, and 3) measure environmental pathogen densities to develop predictive models for crop diseases. While the research is diverse in scope, the diagnostic methods take advantage of a commo
nality across all pests and pathogens—the genetic code.
3:00 pm EST Clones, Carbon and Climate Change: The Epigenetics of Oil Production
Rob Martienssen, Ph.D, Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY
The African oil palm is the most efficient oil bearing crop, but demand for edible oils and biofuels, combined with sustainability concerns over dwindling rainforest reserves, has led to intense pressure to improve oil palm yield. The fruit abnormality, mantled, is a somaclonal variant arising from tissue culture that drastically reduces yield—and has largely halted efforts to clone elite hybrids for oil production. Using epigenome wide association studies, we found that loss of methylation of a LINE retrotransposon related to rice Karma predicts mantled fruit. Identifying “bad Karma” in cloned plantlets allows growers to cull mantled palms before they reach the field. Since many palms in a given plantation are low-yielding, the broad introduction of high-performing clones promises to reduce the land needed to meet world requirements for palm oil.