Grand Challenges Explorations Grants (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

Grand Challenges Explorations fosters creative projects that show great promise to improve the health of people in the developing world. Grants target an expanding set of global health topics, and there are two award rounds per year. Projects with demonstrated success in their initial phase of research have the opportunity to receive Phase II funding of up to $1 million.

Among the 107 researchers awarded new Grand Challenges Explorations grants, Ralf Koebnik  and his team will generate rice plants resistant to Xanthomonas oryzae by making them unresponsive to bacterial infection by selectively generating new rice resistance genes using TALEN technology. To infect, Xanthomonas activates susceptibility genes in rice using transcription factors (TAL effectors). This work would selectively induce mutations in the promoters of rice susceptibility genes at the TAL effector binding sites by either transforming rice with a specific mutagenic TALEN locus or by directly delivering specific mutagenic TALEN proteins directly into the rice plant and then test for resistance.

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Welcome of Professor Claude Bragard

Claude Bragard stay 6 months in RPB for a sabbatical period. He ifull professor of phytopathology at UCL (Louvain university, Belgium), also teaching at ULg (Liège university), ULB (Brussels free university) and UB (Burundi university). HE is also (1) Vice-president of the complementary master in tropical and subtropical plant protection, co-organized with the support of SupAgro Montpellier, (2) associated member of the Belgian Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences, (3) Vice-president of the Earth & Life Institute, an institute with more than 400 researchers in the life & earth sciences. He has managed/manage 18 PhD, of which more than half are orientated toward South problems. His research interest focused on plant-(vector)-pathogen interaction using both tropical and temperate models.....

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TRI LATERAL PROJECT : Stable Rice Supply in Sub-Saharan Africa

On June 15 and 16, the IRD Center in Montpellier was hosting the First TriLat Meeting on Stable Rice Supply in sub-Saharan Africa. This trilateral initiative is coordinated by Dr Ralf Koebnik, IRD Montpellier, UMR 186 “Résistance des Plantes aux Bioagresseurs” (France), Dr Jens Boch, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg (Germany), and Dr Leonard Ouedraogo, INERA Farakoba (Burkina Faso). 15 scientists and university professors from six countries (France, Germany, Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali and Togo) met to discuss opportunities of collaboration and to develop a joint project to fight the most devastating bacterial diseases of rice which are caused by strains of Xanthomonas oryzae. The aim of the trilateral project is to establish a survey for Xanthomonas diseases on rice in West-Africa and to apply novel strategies to combat these diseases, thus supporting an increased rice production for these African countries.

The two-days meeting covered several topics, such as rice cultivation and bacterial diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, sampling and typing of Xanthomonas strains, genetic/omics resources and resistance genes of rice, the impact of key virulence factors of X. oryzae and their potential as guides for the development of novel resistances. The meeting also gave room to exchange views on the acceptance and applicability of GMOs, to discuss questions of intellectual property and to evaluate possibilities for capacity building in the sub-Saharan region.

This very stimulating and fruitful meeting will be succeeded by a second meeting in Burkina Faso by the end of July which will enable the submission of a grant proposal to AIRD and BMBF.

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