A seminar on novel prospects of rice genetics was held on 5thDecember 2012 at BRAC University. The speakers were: Dr. Ming Luo, Senior Scientist at CSIRO plant industry, Canberra, Australia and a pioneer in this fast developing area in genetics, Dr. Abed Chaudhury, a scientist in the area of Plant reproductive Biology and imprinting, and an Adjunct Professor at BRAC University and Dr. Zeba I. Seraj, Professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Mol. Biol., Dhaka University. In late 1990’s Drs. Luo and Chaudhury helped develop the area of genetic imprinting in plants by isolating the FIS class mutant.
Dr. Ming Luo and Dr. Chaudhury were invited as speakers by Digital World 2012 (www.digitalworld2012.org.bd) authority to attend the Genetics and ICT session of Digital World 2012 held on 6th to 8th December, 2012 at Bangabandhu Convention Center. Dr. Chaudhury and Associate Professor Aparna Islam of BRAC University took the opportunity to organise a seminar on modern Plant Biology The seminar was attended by a large number of students, staff and researchers from BRAC, Dhaka and University of Science and Technology, Chittagong. Distinguished scientists, namely, Prof. Dr. Naiyyum Choudhury, Prof. Ziauddin Ahmed, Dr. Zapata from BRAC ARDC were also present in the Seminar.
The topic of Dr. Ming Luo’s talk was on genetic imprinting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genomic_imprinting) and epigenetics. One of the pioneers in the field, Dr Luo and his his associates have so far identified over one hundred imprinted genes in rice endosperm. His research team has successfully identified polymorphisms (SNP) as a result of imprinting, in hybrids of indica and japonica rice in reciprocal crosses throughtranscriptome sequencing and mapping during the seed development stage of rice. This is very important with respect to study of apomixes and seed development in rice.
Suggesting a different approach Dr. Abed Chaudhury impressed the need for developing genetics using R&D in villages. As a holistic approach he underscored the importance of developing not only genetics but also ICT awareness among village people, in particular, girls and to motivate them to work as potential scisntists as well as freelancers of other ICT work. Using the recent example of Kasalath Dr. Chaudhury also emphasized on the importance of distributing rare rice landraces among the farmers in order to ensure that the valuable genetic recources are not lost to.
Lastly, Dr. Zeba I. Seraj gave a brief overview of the current research going on in rice genetics in her lab at DU, as well as about the collaborative work they are carrying out with other institutes like IRRI, BRRI and ICGEB. The talks were followed by a lively discussion on large rice germplasm resources in Bangladesh and how Bangladesh is not being acknowledged in scientific literature despite the fact that some important landraces of rice such as Kasalath have been developed in Bangladesh. It was pointed out that this important omission is due lack of proper documentation. To remedy the situation suggestions were made unanimously that rice geneticists should take timely initiatives to protect their rights.