We are pleased to announce the successful completion of our Molecular Laboratory Training Workshop held in partnership with the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge from 27th March to 4th April 2017. The Molecular Laboratory Training Workshop is a flagship initiative of JR Biotek Foundation, developed to train, inspire and empower a new generation of agricultural research scientists and academics who can contribute to Africa’s development through agricultural research and innovation.
The training workshop included lectures and hands-on laboratory training sessions covering a broad aspect of molecular plant virology and pathology, molecular plant breeding and plant genetics, arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis, etc. The laboratory practical provided knowledge and practical experience in the following areas;
Basic molecular techniques, e.g. the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), quantitative real-time-PCR, ELISA, extraction of genomic material from plant tissues, molecular cloning strategies, etc.
Molecular characterization of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in plant roots (using rice and maize as the model crop)
Molecular detection of plant viruses (using tobacco as the model plant)
Marker Trait Association experiment (using pepper as the model crop)
Confocal microscopy of Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA)-stained intracellular fungal structures in fungal colonized rice roots
Principal Investigators, post-doctoral research associates and other research experts from the University of Cambridge, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, Saudi Arabia, University of Aberdeen, Rothamsted Research UK and the John Innes Centre, UK taught the workshop. We also provided a professional development and science leadership training course to the workshop participants. Overall, the Molecular Laboratory Training Workshop presented an excellent opportunity for the workshop attendees from Africa to meet, connect, and exchange ideas with world-renowned agricultural research experts from Cambridge, Africa and other parts of the world.
Professor Sir David Baulcombe
David Baulcombe was a student in Botany at Leeds (BSc) and Edinburgh (PhD) Universities. After periods in Montreal, the University of Georgia and the Cambridge Plant Breeding Institute he spent 20 years at the Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich. He joined Cambridge University in 2007 as Royal Society Research Professor and now as Regius Professor of Botany. David is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a foreign associate member of the US National Academy of Sciences. His awards include the 2006 Royal Medal of the Royal Society, the 2008 Lasker Award for basic biomedical sciences, the Wolf Prize for Agriculture in 2010 and the 2012 Balzan Prize. He was knighted in June 2009.
Research interests of David Baulcombe involve plants and he focuses on gene silencing and epigenetics – the science of how nurture can influence nature. His discoveries changed thinking about the role of RNA in the regulation of gene expression of animals, plants and fungi. Recently his interests have focused on disease resistance in plants and understanding hybrid crops. David is also interested in the application of science to develop sustainable agriculture. He is a member of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and in 2009 he chaired a Royal Society policy study on the contribution of biological science to food crop productivity1. He also chaired a group that produced a science update report for the British Prime Minister about GM crops2.