– Part of the CDA Spring Lecture Series.
Speaker: Raquel Lía Chan
Professor at the University of Litoral (UNL)
Main Researcher of the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) and Director of the Agrobiotechnology Institute
Drought tolerance in wheat and deregulation of genetically modified wheat – hosted by Prof. Brande Wulff.
Biotechnology and fundamental research are in continuous crosstalk. How some plant species are more able to adapt themselves to adverse environmental conditions leads us to study stress responses at the molecular level, focusing on the first steps in which transcription factors are key players. The sunflower HaHB4 and HaHB11 genes resulted in biotechnological tools to improve crops. After a long way from the laboratory to the field and from a model plant to crops, HaHB4-wheat became the first modified crop arriving at the market in which the gene donor is another plant. On the way are HaHB4 soybean and HaHB11 maize. These crops have shown yield improvements in different regions with different soil qualities, climates, and rainfall regimes. The observation of these plants indicated that stem width is the major trait determining seed yield. We succeeded to provoke this effect by mechanical treatment, resulting in a yield increase.
About the speaker
Raquel Lía Chan is currently a Senior Researcher at CONICET-Argentina, Senior Lecturer at UNL, and Director of the Agrobiotechnology Institute. Her research focuses on plant adaptation to environmental stress, starting from the study of molecules as transcription factors until modified crops in field trials. She completed her degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1981) and her PhD at CEFOBI (CONICET-UNR). She did a Postdoc at the IBMP (France, 1988-1992) and then joined the Molecular Biology Institute (Argentina, 1993) as a CONICET career member. In 1999, she moved to the Coastal National University. Chan is co-author of 95 articles published in prestigious journals, 9 book chapters, dozens of science divulgation articles, and co-inventor of 10 international patents involving biotechnological tools for crop improvement. She received recognition and awards, such as The Jorge Sabato Award (2013), Konex Award (2013), IBR Award (2019), and was selected by the BBC together with IANAS as one of the ten women who lead science in Latin America (2013), as well as nominated by Crop Life International (2019) as Female Food Hero, among others. She has been included in the Santa Fe Academy of Medical Sciences (2020), the National Academy of Sciences (Argentina, 2021), the Latin-American Academy of Science (2021), and the IICA chair (Costa Rica, 2022).