Wits’ Professional Development Hub hosts the 10th Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum

The 10th Regional Plant Forum was held on the 30th of October 2014 at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Professional Development Hub. The ACGT partnered with Prof Chrissie Rey, from the University of the Witwatersrand, to plan and organise the 10th Forum under the theme of “Crop Improvement and Genetic Transformation”.

The forum drew an audience of over 50 people representing all the ACGT partner institutions as well as outside attendees, including the African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI) in KZN as well as the Department of Science and Technology. The attendees had the pleasure of hearing talks from two prominent scientists in the field and keynote speakers for the forum, Dr Sandy Snyman and Prof Johan Burger.

Dr Sandy Snyman is a senior researcher in the biotechnology facility at the South African Sugercane Research Institute (SASRI) based in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Whilst with SASRI, Dr Snyman has initiated and implemented several tissue culture protocols in different aspects of the institute. She also has a particular interest in biosafety risk assessment relating to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Prof Johan Burger is Chair of the Genetics department of Stellenbosch University and his research programme deals with viral diseases as well as molecular genomics of grapevine. Prof Burger serves on a number of steering committees that deal with the study of virus and virus-like diseases of grapevine as well as grape genome programs.

The forum also included talks from Dr Lerato Matsaunyane from University of Johannesburg/ Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Dr Inge Gazendam from the ARC, Prof Chrissie Rey from Wits, Dr Kingstone Mashingaidze from the ARC and Mr Wayne Barnes from the forum sponsor, Thermo Fisher Scientific.

The forum served as an opportunity for the 50+ delegates to network and talk about future collaborative efforts. A need for workshops for plant biotechnologists was also highlighted and the ACGT will look into ways of bringing such workshops within reach for its partner institutions as from 2015.

To access the presentations, please click on the title below:

Dr Sandy Snyman (SASRI) – “In vitro manipulations and strategies for the improvement of sugarcane cultivars in South Africa”
Dr Lerato Matsaunyane (UJ) – “Analysis of the unintended and unexpected effects of transgene insertion on the endogenous host genome”
Prof Johan Burger (SU) – “Of vineyards, viromes and VNPs – lessons in virus variability and versatility”
Dr Inge Gazendam (ARC) – “The application of genetic transformation at the ARC-VOPI to improve plant traits”
Prof Chrissie Rey (Wits) – “Stacking genes for multiple trait genetic modification”
Dr Kingstone Mashingaidze –  “Public-private partnerships for deployment of GM traits to smallholder farmers