What can the genomics revolution teach us about global change?

October 08, 2003

MADISON, WI, OCTOBER 8, 2003 - While the scientific community has made tremendous investments in sequencing and interpreting animal and plant genes for biomedical applications, many researchers are looking at genomics to help solve problems in agriculture, such as impacts of global change.

Several of these international researchers will meet in Denver, CO, at the Annual Meeting of the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) on Nov. 5 to collaborate during a daylong symposium to catalyze linkages between genomics research and research on global change in agriculture. The symposium is the result of the overall "genomics revolution" which has scientists seeking to understand how genetic information, coded in DNA, is ultimately translated into how an organism - whether a microbe or corn plant - responds to its environment. These scientists hope to understand how global warming and increased carbon dioxide affect agriculture production.

"There remains great uncertainty over how crops respond to interacting environmental factors and whether new varieties or farming practices can be developed to minimize the impacts of global change," says plant physiologist Jeff White of the U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Phoenix, AZ. "We have to remember that the long-term survival of society depends on wise use of the natural environment. Solving problems of agriculture, such as impacts of global change, may offer society the greatest return on its investment in genomics."

This common theme of organisms interacting with the environment suggests that stronger linkages between genomics research and agricultural studies may shed new light on how global change will affect agriculture - and just as importantly, how to adapt agriculture to the expected changes. The symposium, "Opportunities for Linking Functional Genomics with Physiology for Global Change Research," will explore these exciting possibilities.

An international panel of experts in fields ranging from molecular pathways to the biology of root systems will present 12 papers covering such topics as:

The symposium represents perhaps the first attempt to bring together such a broad range of researchers from the genomics community to deal with the impacts of global change on agriculture. The event's organizers expect this initial meeting will lead to important new lines of research with an emphasis on improved collaboration between genomics and global change research.

"We often ask how does agriculture impact global change. This symposium turns that question around to ask the question how does global change affect agriculture," says White.

The Annual Meeting of CSSA is held in conjunction with the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), Nov. 2-6, at the Colorado Convention Center, Denver, CO, under the theme, "Changing Sciences for a Changing World: Building a Broader Vision". Over 2,800 scientific research papers that cover such topics as plant genomics, turfgrass science, international agriculture development, soil nutrient management, and sustainable agriculture will be presented. Over 4,000 delegates from more than 100 countries are expected to be in attendance. A detailed program brochure is available online at www.asa-cssa-sssa.org/anmeet.
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) http://www.agronomy.org, the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) http://www.crops.org and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) http://www.soils.org are educational organizations helping their 10,000+ members advance the disciplines and practices of agronomy, crop, soil sciences, and related fields by supporting professional growth and science policy initiatives, and by providing quality, research-based publications and a variety of membership services.

American Society of Agronomy

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