What can the genomics revolution teach us about global change?

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 i

Contact: Sara Uttech
American Society of Agronomy

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