April 24, ’14. Dr. Adam Price, Professor in Plant Molecular Biology, Dept. of Plant and Soils, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK visited Plant Biotech. Lab, headed by Professor Zeba I. Seraj, on 22nd of April, 2014. Professor Price is a very well known appearance in the field of Plant Molecular Biology. His expertise and interest lies on genetic variation in rice at the breeding, physiological and molecular level, particularly in Quantitative trait loci (QTL) and gene association mapping during both biotic (fungal pathogen etc.) and abiotic (drought and heat) stress. Currently he is collaborating with Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU) on a BBSRC (The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council) funded project. He delivered a seminar at the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology dept., DU on the progress of his work with BAU and his talk was titled, ‘A genetic dissection of the traits required for sustainable water use in rice using Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS)’. He emphasized on lowering of water tables and ingress of saline water in coastal areas during rice production in BD. Moreover, the groundwater used in some parts of Bangladesh contains high concentrations of arsenic (As) which leads to dangerous concentrations of this class one human carcinogen in rice grain. However, alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) is a promising water-saving method that is being widely adopted in Bangladesh but it is not known why it improves crop water-use efficiency, if it is sustainable, if its adoption will reduce the exposure of the population to arsenic (As) poisoning or if genetic variation for adaptation to this new regime exists in rice. Importantly, also, no work has yet been conducted to determine genetic variation for adaption (suitability) to AWD over conventional flooded crop production. This collaborating project will address these shortcomings by combining; i) a genetic screen for rice genes responsible for adaptation to AWD (exploiting advances in genome sequencing technology); ii) a chemical and physical analysis of the soil during cycles of wetting and drying; iii) a detailed physiological and transcriptomic characterization of the changes that AWD causes in the rice plant and iv) a systems biology approach to identifying the metabolic pathways that are responsible for adaptation to AWD. He elaborately discussed the methodology; so far improvement they made and their future plans. They have already collected 300 rice land races from the Bengal region suitable for boro cultivation. This population has already been screened under conventional flooding and AWD in Bangladesh in one site in the first season and three sites in the second season. Agronomic data have been collected to assess the adaptation to AWD. This collected population will be sequenced to 1 x genome coverage to provide approx. 3 million single nucleotide polymorphisms. Finally, both sets of data will be subjected to genome wide association mapping to identify the genomic regions and candidate genes associated with the traits and to identify if any specific element is related to adaptability to AWD. Detailed analysis of soil chemistry and strength will also be conducted to reveal the physical/chemical changes taking place that affect plant growth. To know more about his seminar click here.