Biotech Updates

Young Scientists from Ethiopia and India Get Vavilov-Frankel Fellowships for 2012

April 20, 2012

Vavilov-Frankel Fellowship, established by Bioversity International in 1989, encourages the use of plant genetic resources by helping outstanding young scientists from developing countries to conduct innovative studies outside their countries. This year, fellows Priyanka Gupta from India and Dejene Kassahun Mengistu from Ethiopia will be conducting research on responses and tolerance to drought of grasspea and wheat, respectively.

Mengistu will focus on the genotype of local varieties of Ethiopian durum wheat. He will also delve into the identification of agronomic and physiological traits of these species that could help in developing drought tolerant varieties. This research is highly important as it will help Ethiopia in devising ways of climate change adaptation and reducing the vulnerability of their farming communities. He will be doing his research at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa, Italy under the funding of Pioneer Hi-Bred International and in collaboration with Bioversity International.

On the other hand, Gupta will be investigating on the effects of heat and drought stress on the ß-ODAP content of grasspea (Lathyrus sativus). Often used as survival food, grasspea contains a neurotoxic amino acid known as ODAP, which could cause lower body paralysis if consumed for extended periods. Gupta's study aims to look into the ODAP accumulation of grasspea. Research results aid in future development of low ODAP varieties of grasspea. It will take place at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), with support from the Grains Research of Research an Development Corporation (GRCD) of Australia.

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