The ACGT partners again rallied around the aim of building broader collaboration between institutions at the 3rd ACGT Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum on the 25th of March 2011. This time around, the Forum was sponsored by Monsanto and held at the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
The proceedings started with a welcome by new ACGT Centre Manager, Dr John Becker, which was followed by talks from representatives of a number of the partner institutions on some of their current research. Phillip Rousseau of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) shared information about work being done there on DNA barcoding, while Wits’ Prof Chrissie Rey gave a presentation on ‘Engineering resistance to Cassava Mosaic Disease’. Other featured research included ‘Carotenoids in potato, wheat and tomato cultivars’, presented by Charlotte Mashaba of CSIR Biosciences.
Over 50 participants attended, including researchers from all five of the ACGT partner institutions and a significant number of students – two of whom also gave presentations. At the same time, the DST’s representation by Mr Ben Durham was a heartening indication of the high-level commitment that exists towards furthering South Africa’s biotech agenda, according to Dr Becker. “Another great addition to the Forum audience was a group of researchers from the Biological Research Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences visiting the CSIR at the time”, he says.
He adds that the wide base of representation added even greater impetus to the discussions covered during the second half of the event. It was during this part of the programme that a document exploring suggested principles for equipment sharing was tabled for comment. This was then followed by more presentations from the partner institutions about their various facilities and the equipment that is housed there. The showcased facilities were the ACGT’s Microarray and Bioinformatics facilities, along with the ARC Biotechnology Platform and the CSIR Proteomics facility.
Among the workshop outcomes were a number of value-adding suggestions put forward by the participants. These included future presentations on the DST Bioeconomy Strategy and an IP and commercialization case study. It was also noted that students would be given more opportunities to present short talks to showcase their work and researchers would be encouraged to bring mini-posters which address project-level work.
Dr Becker adds that another major thrust going forward will be to expand the Forums so as to add a focus on health sciences and animal biotechnology. “Some of the partners have strong research components in health and yet others are looking to build their capacity in this area”, he says.
The next Forum will be held in September or October 2011. Keep an eye on “Upcoming events” on the ACGT website in the following months for more details of the event. If you have any further suggestions or would like to present your work, please contact Jessika () or John ().
Download presentations from the Forum
- 3rd Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum Programme
- Welcome, Becker
- DNA barcoding – Making every species count, Rousseau
- Engineering Resistance to Cassava Mosaic Disease, Rey
- Carotenoids in potato, wheat and tomato cultivars, Mashaba
- Suggested principles of equipment sharing, Morris
- A Decade of Microarrays, Olivier
- CSIR Proteomics Facility, Stoychev
- ARC Biotechnology Platform, Rees
- UP Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Unit, Joubert