recently launched ARC Center of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture Plant science experts are cultivating the next crop.
Administered by the University of Queensland, the collaborative research initiative aims to develop tools to improve plant productivity and resilience.
Deputy Center Director (Research) Professor Mark Cooper The next generation of plant scientists is urgently needed to tackle the growing threats to climate change and global food security.
“The agricultural industry is facing some ‘super wicked’ problems,” said Professor Cooper.
“Future plant scientists will have to consider sustainable solutions to help develop agricultural systems and develop concepts for biodiversity and revitalizing the environment.
center director Professor Christine Beveridge Said that scientists will also have to work in multidisciplinary teams to conduct research and exploit opportunities.
“Problems like global food security are so big that you need people like mathematicians, who apply mathematics as a common language to bring biology to plant breeders,” Professor Beveridge said.
“We’re trying to answer the whole problem, not just a small part of it, and that’s where the center comes in.”
Professor Beveridge said Dr. Maddie James and PhD candidate Samuel Barton are two young researchers who embodied the spirit of the Center for Plant Success.
Dr James is a postdoctoral researcher and recently SSE Speaker Award Winner Investigating how plants adapt to harsh environmental conditions.
He said the growing global population, changing climate and declining arable land called for strategies to feed the world in a more sustainable manner.
“The research we are doing will help develop ways to increase plant yield and survival in diverse environments,” Dr James said.
“For example, creating new plant varieties that are more resilient to heat and drought stress.”
PhD candidate Samuel Barton is applying mathematical ideas and methods to plant genetics.
His work, in both mathematics and biology, is poised to play a significant role in predicting and improving plant performance.
“Experts from different disciplines are all working towards a common goal of better environmental sustainability,” said Mr. Barton.
“The Center for Plant Success brings them together to identify opportunities for success and tackle the difficult research problems we face.”
The center is a partnership with the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, University of Tasmania, Western Sydney University and Monash University.
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Image from top left: Professor Mark Cooper and Professor Christine Beveridge observe a tidal field.