Prof Shimelis Presents at International Tropical Agriculture Conference

Professor Hussein Shimelis, SASRI Chair of Crop Science participated in the biennial International Tropical Agriculture Conference (TropAg2017) held in Brisbane, Australia from 20 to 22 November 2017.



Prof Shimelis (second from the left) with Delegates at the Conference


This year’s event attracted 720 delegates, and was aimed at enhancing international experience among leading scientific experts and facilitating collaboration, development of new projects and technology transfer. Various research papers were presented concerning advances within the agricultural industries in the subtropics and tropics, including work on grain and pulse crops, sugarcane and horticultural crops, and livestock. Oral and poster papers were presented covering a diverse range of topics.

Shimelis presented a poster entitled ‘Ethylmethanesulfonate mutagenesis of vernonia (Centrapalus pauciflorus var. ethiopica) to enhance seed oil content and fatty acid composition’.

Shimelis' poster was presented under the theme of Future Field Crops. The study was conducted in collaboration with the University of the Free State through financial support of the National Research Foundation.
The aim of this study was to induce genetic variation and alter seed oil content and fatty acid composition in a novel industrial crop, vernonia, through ethylmethylsulfonate (EMS) mutagenesis.

Results of the study suggest that the effect of EMS mutagenesis on fatty acid composition in vernonia could be genotype-specific, and is influenced by EMS dose.

'There is potential to increase solely vernolic acid, while at the same time reducing the other fatty acids during vernonia improvement,' explained Shimelis.

While at the conference, he was also able to attend the launch of a book entitled ‘The Business of Plant Breeding: Market-led approaches to new variety design in Africa' (edited by Dr Gabrielle J. Persley and Dr Vivienne M. Anthony). Shimelis contributed Chapter 4 of the book, entitled New Variety Design and Product Profiling.

'The education module is based on current concepts and best-practices in demand-led breeding,' said Shimelis.

The book was compiled by various experts and educators from the public and private sectors across Africa and internationally, and is intended for postgraduate educators and scholars in plant breeding, crop improvement and seed systems, and for continuing professional development of plant breeders.

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