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Plenary Symposium: Botany in the World's Service

Singer, Susan R. [1].

Can plant molecular and developmental biology improve human and environmental well being?

Environmental quality and human health are among our greatest challenges world wide. Characterizing rice, Arabidopsis, and legume genomes and asking how a single cell develops into a complex, three-dimensional plant provide inroads to addressing these challenges. Potential botanical solutions require synergistic social, political and economic approaches. For 10,000 years humans have improved crops with increasing understanding of the genetic complexities of their endeavors. Yield, increased nutritional value, disease resistance, and stress resistance are key to the quality and quantity of food. Edible vaccines offer the tantalizing promise of reducing disease in developing countries. Land lost to high salinity, heavy metal contamination, toxic waste sites, radioactive contamination from tragedies like Chernobyl, and jet fuel soaked land may be reclaimed through phyotremediation- the use of plants to remove and/or breakdown toxic substances. New tools and new knowledge are raising increased awareness of the value of preserving wild germplasm. Sequencing of whole genomes has opened the door to a world of integrative questions, especially those that fascinate developmental biologists. As we strive to make sense of genomic and developmental complexity, the role of more traditional breeding programs becomes clearer. We move forward in new directions, recognizing the limitations of single gene approaches. Making connections among 24,000 or 35,000 genes that are combinatorial in expression over time is a tremendous undertaking. The potential to truly understand how to "build" a plant is compelling intellectually and affords the possibility of healthier people living in a healthier environment.

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1 - Carleton College, Biology, Onc College St., Northfield, Minnesota, 55057, USA

edible vaccines
crop improvement.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: 4-4
Location: Salon G - Austin Grand Ballroom/Hilton
Date: Monday, August 15th, 2005
Time: 10:15 AM
Abstract ID:492

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