Flinders talent tops the bill at ComBio2017 

Associate Professor Michael Michael from the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer has chaired one of the most important and diverse events in the Australasian scientific calendar: ComBio2017.

Held earlier this month at Adelaide’s Convention Centre, the conference incorporated the annual meetings of the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Australian Society of Plant Scientists and the Australia and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology.

The conference ran from 2-5 October 2017 and many Flinders staff and students presented their work.

Flinders’ plant researchers were well represented, with many posters from members of Biological Sciences.

Dr Emma de Courcy-Ireland and Dr Nick Warnock presented two sessions on their work to increase grain zinc levels in rice.

They both belong to the Plant Nutrition lab, headed by Professor James Stangoulis.

The research they presented was focused on the development of molecular markers that can be used to breed rice with higher levels of zinc.

Zinc deficiency is a global problem that affects more than 17% of the global population.

It is most prevalent in developing countries where there is a high dependency on staple crops like rice but where the rice contains relatively low levels of zinc and other micronutrients.

The work by Dr de Courcy-Ireland and Dr Warnock will contribute to the creation new rice varieties with adequate zinc levels to reduce the need for zinc supplements.

Their work will also help prevent the adverse health outcomes of zinc-deficiency, including poor immune function, stunted growth, high childhood mortality and lowered life expectancy.

ComBio2017 also featured a presentation by Associate Professor Kathleen Soole, who spoke about a plant-based system that degrades herbicide residue in agricultural soil, and Dr Crystal Sweetman, who discussed two mitochondrial genes that have proven to provide plants with increased drought tolerance.

Associate Professor Janni Petersen and Shee Chee Ong, both students of Professor Briony Forbes from the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer,  also delivered presentations over the course of the four-day event.





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