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World conference on biology behind food security

More than 220 international scientists will meet at a conference in Adelaide, Australia next week (19-24 September) to discuss the biology of plant membranes, an understanding of which is crucial to developing crops that will feed us into the future.

"Agriculture today is tough. According to a recent UN report we will need to produce more food in the next 50 years than we have in the last 10,000, but environmental issues like drought and salinity are limiting crop yields and food production," said conference convenor Dr Matthew Gilliham from the University of Adelaide's Waite Research Institute.

"Humanity is not likely to meet these challenges through more cows, sheep and fish, but rather through improved plants that can grow better in harsh conditions with limited resources. Understanding how plants work is crucial to ensuring a secure food supply," he said.

Presentations at the conference will discuss the science underpinning how plants acquire and use water and nutrients, and how they survive in marginal environments. Topics will include the tolerance of plants to soils affected by salt, aluminum, boron and drought, and increasing plant production through improving nutrient and water use efficiency.

"These are major issues for world agricultural production today due to climate change and increasing fertilizer prices," Dr Gilliham said.

Leading scientists in these areas will converge on Adelaide from around the world, including Japan, USA, France, Germany, UK and Saudi Arabia.

The conference the 15th International Workshop on Plant Membrane Biology (IWPMB) is organized by members of the Waite Research Institute at the University of Adelaide and the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG). Being held at the National Wine Centre, Adelaide, the opening plenary lecture will be presented by Professor Wolf Frommer from the Carnegie Institution for Science, USA.

"This is the world's premier conference in its field," Dr Gilliham said. "Held on a triennial basis for the last 45 years, scientists representing the world's leading research laboratories meet to present and discuss their cutting-edge research and the field's recent developments.

"These meetings are important because they help to generate discussion and understanding of plant processes that will lead to improved knowledge, and eventually improved crops," he said.

The conference is also a satellite meeting of OZBIO2010.


Contact: Dr Matthew Gilliham, University of Adelaide
University of Adelaide

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