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Showing 2 of 2 dates for this event.
Dates available from 25 Jul 2019 until 06 Aug 2019

Event date: 25Jul 2019

Thursday 25 Jul 2019

Dr Owain Edwards, CSIRO Land and Water

  • 3.00pm - 4.00pm

Auditorium, 147 Underwood Avenue, Floreat, WA

Event date: 06Aug 2019

Tuesday 6 Aug 2019

Dr Dean Thomas, CSIRO Agriculture and Food

  • 3.00pm - 4.00pm

Auditorium, 147 Underwood Avenue, Floreat, WA

More information

Dr Owain Edwards, CSIRO Land and Water
Ecosystem engineering: Can synthetic biology provide acceptable solutions to our most intractable environmental problems?

Thursday 25 July 2019
3.00pm - 4.00pm
Auditorium, 147 Underwood Avenue, Floreat WA

Abstract:

CSIRO's Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform is the first international synthetic biology initiative to have a specific focus on environmental applications. The FSP's Environment & Biocontrol Domain has two major research foci: (1) Developing novel pest control technologies primarily targeting invasive species, and (2) Engineering resilience to environmental change in keystone species within threatened ecosystems. CSIRO is aiming to develop a portfolio of genetic control options for managing invasive species, with the goal of matching the most suitable technology or technologies with each target pest. Most of these approaches are designed to replicate the effects of selfish genetic technologies that occur naturally in insect populations. The most promising technology for widespread invasive species control is called a ‘gene drive', and Australia is taking a leading role in developing gene drive technologies against invertebrate and vertebrate targets. Gene drives have inherent risks, including potential unintended consequences, so it is important that gene drive constructs include failsafe technologies to ensure they are self-limiting after release. The flagship project in the FSP for engineering resilience aims to develop bleach-tolerant corals. Our approach has focused on the algal symbionts of corals, which are expelled from the coral during the bleaching process. Through artificial selection, we have developed algal symbiont strains that have increased thermal tolerance, and which also confer this increased tolerance to their coral hosts to reduce bleaching. We are now identifying the molecular mechanisms underlying this change to consider introducing thermal tolerance into other symbiont strains. All environmental applications of synthetic biology technologies are controversial, so we are working closely with social scientists to explore stakeholder and community concerns regarding their implementation.

Bio:

Dr Edwards' research at CSIRO focused initially on the ecological and molecular basis of aphid-host plant interactions, then expanded to investigate molecular interactions of aphids with their environment more broadly – including epigenetic regulation of aphid polyphenism. Dr Edwards continues to serve on the board of the International Aphid Genomics Consortium, and on advisory committees to many other invertebrate genomics consortia. Building on his expertise in invertebrate genomics, he leads a CSIRO research group in Environmental Genomics, which includes a research team focused on genetic pest control technologies. Most recently, Dr Edwards was appointed as leader of the Environment & Biocontrol Domain of CSIRO's Future Science Platform in Synthetic Biology. Within this platform, Dr Edwards oversees projects delivering environmental outcomes including gene drives for biological control, and engineering resistance/resilience in threatened ecosystems.


Dr Dean Thomas, CSIRO Agriculture and Food
Developments in the design and management of the feedbase for ruminant livestock production

Tuesday 6 August 2019
3.00pm - 4.00pm
Auditorium, 147 Underwood Avenue, Floreat WA

Abstract:

Many of the agricultural research activities undertaken by CSIRO and other research institutions affect the feedbase of livestock in Australia either directly or indirectly. An example of an indirect research effect is the release of a new pulse cultivar, which has flow-on effects to the feedbase such as i) the grazing value of the associated crop residue, ii) land use rotations and iii) the amount and quality of supplementary feed that is available to farmers on the domestic market.

The feedbase refers to the range of feed stuffs (mostly forages) that farmers have access to when feeding livestock that are managed under extensive grazing conditions. On mixed farms in southern Australia the feedbase is highly diversified and includes components such as pasture legumes, crop residues (stubbles), dual-purpose crops, shrubs and perennial grasses that may also be part of pasture-cropping systems. These feedbase components have been the subject of ongoing research for many decades, but more recently there has been increased focus on precision management of the feedbase and developing the digital capacity around the measurement or prediction of pasture feeding value.

In this presentation I will discuss current feedbase research activities, and in particular new analytical and digital capabilities that are being developed to improve seasonal feedbase management. Topics that are to be covered include;

  • Advanced analytical methods for predicting the feeding value of crop stubbles
  • High resolution simulation modelling to estimate livestock carrying capacity across southern Australia
  • Pasture API – a digital platform to provide probabilistic seasonal pasture outlook estimates at any location across southern Australia, based on the tactical simulation function in GrassGro™ (ruminant grazing simulation software).

Bio:

Dean Thomas is a Senior Research Scientist with CSIRO Agriculture and Food, and is interested in the sustainable integration of cropping and livestock enterprises in the mixed farming region of Australia. Their team is investigating the role of livestock to improve environmental health of dryland farming systems and make it profitable for farmers to introduce perennial plants into farming landscapes. Dean has experience conducting research using animal house, field and biophysical modelling experimental techniques. This research has addressed questions of national and international importance for sheep production, mixed crop-livestock farming and rangeland beef production. Dean has published in areas include; implications of high salt diets in sheep, selective grazing behaviour of sheep, systems analysis of new farming practices such as dual-purpose crops and pasture cropping, techniques to monitoring effects of grazing on soil erosion susceptibility and the development of applications for precision livestock management. He has an adjunct lecturing position at the University of Western Australia and co-supervised Honours and postgraduate students at WA universities, and has worked for 10 years in the CSIRO's Scientists in Schools program to encourage school student's interest in science and agriculture.


How to get there: CSIRO Floreat site map

Science areas: General Science

Event type: Conference or seminar