Genomics centre benefits from fellowships
Thursday, 20 March 2003
The University of Adelaide and the recently opened Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the Waite Campus will benefit from the Federation Fellowships announced today by the Federal Government.
The Centre will be the host institution for a project entitled: "Salinity tolerance and long-distance transport in cereals." Dr Mark Tester, who is managing the project at the University of Cambridge, will soon be based at the Centre. He received his B.Sc. at the University of Adelaide in 1984 and lectured at the University from 1990-1992.
"The aim of the program is to alter shoot accumulation of solutes in cereals by exploiting novel transgenic technology to manipulate processes in specific cell types in the roots," says Professor Peter Langridge, CEO of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics.
"The primary objective is the generation of cereals which have increased tolerance of saline soils. This is clearly of much agricultural significance in Australia. More general outcomes include the generation of plants with altered concentrations of a range of nutrients in both leaves and grain," he says.
Professor Langridge adds this will be of wide agricultural and nutritional benefit, as well as providing an understanding of principles underlying the long-distance coordination of processes in plants.
"A key objective of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics is to attract high profile international scientists to Australia and this fellowship is a very important outcome for the Centre.
"The Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics currently also has two international visitors (Professor Diane Mather from McGill University, Canada and Professor Herman Buerstmayr from IFA Tulln, Austria," Professor Langridge says.
Professor Peter Rathjen, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, says this is highly significant for the development of research capabilities in South Australia.
"Dr Tester will bring with him links to highly sophisticated and well advanced plant nutrient genomics projects," says Professor Rathjen.
In a statement issued today by the Group of Eight - the coalition of Australia's leading universities - the 24 Fellowships and the Federal Government's commitment of a further $34.8 million over the next five years to attract and keep leading researchers in Australia -- is extremely welcome.
"The initiative demonstrates that the Government appreciates the enormous economic, environmental and social benefits that can flow to nations that invest in groundbreaking research," the statement says.
It adds that the Go8 is pleased that the Fellowships have lured prominent researchers in various fields from Britain, the United States and Germany, as well as convincing six leading Australian researchers to return to Australia to continue their work.
The Group of Eight comprises the University of Adelaide, Australian National University, University of Melbourne, Monash University, University of New South Wales, University of Queensland, University of Sydney and University of Western Australia.
These universities are responsible for more than 70 per cent of research undertaken in Australia.