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Leading scientists to debate global food problems in Dundee

More than 250 scientists and researchers, including some of the worlds leading crop specialists, are heading to Dundee to debate the mounting problems facing global food supplies.

The 7th annual Solanaceae Conference – SOL2010 is being held at Dundees Apex City Quay Hotel from September 5th to 9th.

Every year since 2004, a large group of over 200 scientists has met in various locations around the world to present their research into one of the economically important groups of plants, known as the Solanaceae.

This plant family includes globally important crops such as potato and tomato, as well as other widely grown foods such as aubergine and pepper.

The conference will bring together scientists from research institutes, universities and breeding companies from all over the world. SOL2010 has been jointly organised by SCRI, Scotlands world renowned centre for crop research which is based at Invergowrie, and the UK Solanaceae group. This years conference has secured an exciting line-up of international speakers.

Experts from as far afield as Germany, Denmark, USA, New Zealand, China and South Korea will address delegates. They are all grappling with the problem of how to feed a world population that is expected to grow to 9 billion by the middle of this century. Equally important is to find ways of growing food in a sustainable way that wont damage the environment. That is especially difficult because it is only because of high-tech, sophisticated agricultural systems that we are able to feed and clothe the existing world population.

The experts include Professor Sir David Baulcombe, a renowned expert in the fields of virus movement, genetic regulation, disease resistance and gene silencing. He holds the position of Royal Society Research Professor and Regius Professor of Botany at Cambridge University. Professor Baulcombe recently chaired a Royal Society working group studying the extent to which biological and related sciences can contribute to enhancing global food crop production over the next 30 years, within the context of changing global and regional demand.

Another leading scientist who will be in Dundee is Dr Sandra Knapp, a research botanist at the Natural History Museum in London. She is an expert on various Solanum groups, including tomatoes and their wild relatives. She will be chairing a session on the biodiversity of Solanaceous plants at the conference.

Dr Robin Buell, Associate Professor at Michigan State University, USA has research interests activities centered on genomic aspects of plant biology and plant pathogens. She has played a major role in the genome sequencing of important crops such as rice and potato, and will be talking about the Potato Genome Project at SOL2010.

Dr Esther van der Knaap is an expert on tomato fruit development at the Ohio State University in the USA. She will be speaking about how, in different countries around the world, plant breeders have selected tomato varieties with different fruit shapes. Her research also shows that some mutations giving rise to certain shapes of tomatoes, occurred before tomatoes were first domesticated in South America, whereas others took place in Europe much later.

Karen Tocher, manager of Dundee and Angus Convention Bureau says, Weve had an excellent response to the conference so far, with more than 250 delegate registrations. With the high calibre of speakers and fascinating conference programme, organisers expect the number of registrations to exceed expectations. Securing a major conference such as this is fantastic for the local economy. We look forward to welcoming the international delegates and giving them a ta ste of our renowned Scottish hospitality.

Glenn Bryan, leader of the Potato Genetics and Breeding Group at SCRI says, This is set to be a fantastic, vibrant conference, and we are delighted to be hosting it in Scotland. We have secured a top-notch line-up of internationally renowned experts in the field of Solanaceae research to share their latest research techniques and findings.

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