The inaugural Keith W Finlay Lecture was given by CSIRO fellow Dr Liz Dennis on the Genetics and Epigenetics of Flowering, if you missed this facinating lecture you can listen to the podcast.
Dr Dennis is internationally recognised as a leading plant molecular biologist. Her contributions include defining the molecular pathway for low oxygen response in plants, studying cotton fibre development and unlocking the secrets of the regulation of flowering. Flowering is one of the most critical stages in the life of a plant. Genes controlling flowering time have been identified in both Arabidopsis and cereals and their regulation in response to environmental cues studied. Epigenetic regulation of genes is emerging as a major player in controlling development and response to environmental conditions. One of the best studied examples of epigenetic regulation occurs during vernalisation – the promotion of flowering by cold. Research by Dr Dennis and her team in both Arabidopsis and cereals, has shown that epigenetic regulation of genes prevents vernalisation responsive plants from being triggered to flower by the long days of autumn and flowering. In recognition of her contribution to plant molecular biology, Dr Dennis has been asked to deliver the inaugural Keith W Finlay Lecture.
Keith Warren Finlay was employed as the Senior Plant Breeder and Crop Geneticist at the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide in 1955. During his time at the Waite (1955-1969), Finlay was responsible for building the reputation and scale of the Waite’s cereal breeding programs through his mechanical innovations and collection of large numbers of barley and wheat cultivars. After leaving the University, Finlay was the Deputy-Director General of the International Centre for the Improvement of Wheat and Maize influencing the development of plant breeding internationally. He died in 1980.