Colorado State University Researchers Host Plant Drought Adaptation Symposium

Colorado State University researchers are hosting the first symposium focused on genetic breeding of plants to make them drought tolerant. The “Plant Breeding for Drought Tolerance Symposium” will be held June 24-25 in Room A-103 of the Clark Building on the Colorado State campus. The program will run from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. each day.

The event will bring together national and international experts in plant physiology, genetics and agronomy. Symposium organizer John McKay, assistant professor in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management at CSU, believes that many of the agricultural revolutions in crop management, such as irrigation, use of fertilizers and use of pesticides, are reaching their limits in terms of effectiveness.

“It is estimated that 80 percent of all fresh water consumption in the world is used in irrigation and 50 percent of the world’s reactive nitrogen is used in agriculture, so it is doubtful that greater amounts can be applied,” McKay said. “In the past, crop productivity was due equally to genetics and improved crop management, but future increases will be due more to improved genetics through plant breeding.”

Symposium topics include drought tolerance in wild sunflowers; dissecting drought tolerance in wheat and durum wheat; drought tolerance in maize; and combining field, lab and population genetic approaches to understanding drought adaptation.

The keynote address will be delivered at 4 p.m. June 25 by Richard Richards, plant physiologist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Canberra, Australia. Richards will discuss the genetic and physiological variations in the growth, development and yield of wheat.

Other speakers include Roberto Tuberosa, University of Bologna, Italy; Lisa Donovan, Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia; Rachid Serraj, International Rice Research Institute; Tim Setter, Cornell University; and Renee LaFitte, Pioneer Hybrid.

The event is sponsored by U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation, CSU International Programs and a gift from Pioneer Hybrid.

Registration will be available on site in the Clark Building. Cost is $200 for non-students and $150 for students.

For more information, contact John McKay, (970) 491-5730 or