Tasting the future of food with next gen plant breeding

12 May 2022

The 16th Australasian Plant Breeding Conference (APBC) held at the Gold Coast was the first event of its kind in nearly a decade.

Over three days the conference featured 200 speakers and 450 delegates who gathered with plant breeders, allied scientists, innovators, and experts from around the globe to explore the theme Towards 2050. 

Contributors examined the long-term nature of plant breeding and its essential role in delivering food and prosperity for the predicted global population of nine billion by mid-century – all in the context of decreasing available production area, climate change and demand for new products.

Conference highlights included:
•    A showcase of food and drinks developed from new plant varieties gave delegates the chance to taste-test the latest products now available.
•    Prof. Mark Howden, the Vice-Chancellor of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change delivered a plenary address putting a 'Spotlight on opportunities for adaptation in agriculture under climate change'.
•    Dr. Ed Buckler, a research geneticist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service and adjunct professor of plant breeding and genetics with Cornell's Institute of Biotechnology delivered his plenary address about 'Accelerating crop improvement through functional genomics'.

Chair of APBC Organising Committee Associate Professor Craig Hardner said the conference was a tremendous opportunity for the industry to come together and work Towards 2050.

"Plant breeding is a fundamental component of agriculture. It is vital for the ongoing sustainability of food and fibre industries and the health and well-being of society,” Dr Harder said.

"We're responsible for ensuring that tastier, higher productivity, disease-resistant, resilient, and sustainable varieties and breeds of plants continue to be developed and refined for kitchen tables worldwide.

"As the first Conference since 2014, the APBC was an important meeting place for different generations of plant breeders and scientists to connect and share experiences and ideas.  

"And the conference was not just about fruits and vegetables, as it attracted the best scientists and representatives from fields including forestry, grains, nuts, and turf.

"The conference offered something for everyone from beers bred with a new variety of hops to new breeds of snack-sized vegetables, a fluffier rice variety for the perfect paella and pink strawberry varieties for prettier pavlovas."

APBC  was supported by major sponsors including The University of Queensland, the Queensland Government via the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Illumina, Kalyx, Nuseed, and other sponsors representing agriculture groups and food industry companies. 

View the program, abstracts and more information from the APBC website 

Contact: APBC Chair Assoc. Professor Craig Hardner, The University of Queensland, E. craig.hardner@uq.edu.au M. 0404 551 516 or QAAFI media carolyn.martin@uq.edu.au, 0439 399 886.

Photos from the APB Conference are available for download from Dropbox 

The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.