Mar 2015: UWC-MU Plant Science Symposium

Tags: plant science, climate change, antibiotic resistance, food security

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The UWC-MU Plant Science Symposium held at the University of the Western Cape saw local and international plant scientists gather to discuss “Sustainable Food Security and Environmental Ecosystems for World Prosperity”


CoE director Professor Julian May speaking at the collaborative symposium of the University of the Western Cape and the University of Missouri in association with the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security at the University of the Western Cape

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The event featured researchers from around South Africa and the US, and was held with support from the new national Centre of Excellence in Food Security, co-hosted by UWC and the University of Pretoria.

CoE affiliate, Professor Ndiko Ludidi of UWC

The UWC-MU Plant Science Symposium is a result of interaction between Prof Ndiko Ludidi in the Department of Biotechnology at UWC and Prof Robert Sharp of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group at the University of Missouri.

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It’s widely agreed that climate change poses a very real threat to food security, especially in those regions already subject to food insecurity. In response, scientists across the globe have been looking at all manner of science-based solutions, to address the challenges we face today.

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Themed "Sustainable Food Security and Environmental Ecosystems for World Prosperity", the symposium’s more than 30 presentations was a celebration of cutting-edge plant research.

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The timely placed symposium took place at a time when governments and scientists around the world tackle issues of food security resulting from the shocks of climate change.

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Presentations looked at how plants respond to a range of abiotic and biotic stresses – i.e. stresses caused by, respectively, non-living and living factors such as drought (a particular concern as water scarcity becomes a global issue), heat, salinity (salt levels) and bacteria.

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The Symposium was aimed at bringing together relevant UWC and MU plant scientists whose research interests in plant abiotic and biotic stresses impact on Food Security and Environmental Sustainability.

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Collaborations such as the one with UWC allow scientists to, on an international scale, draw greater attention to issues of food security and water scarcity, said Professor Robert Sharp, director of MU’s Interdisciplinary Plant Group (IPG), a group dedicated to the study of plants’ response to changing environments.

Adjunct Professor Mel Oliver_plant science day 1 (8)

Adjunct Professor Mel Oliver of MU was among the expert presenting at a symposium focused on the abiotic and biotic stresses that plants are subjected to amid climate change, and how those impact on food security and environmental sustainability.